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Claire D. Thompson
Lake Murray Elementary School
District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties
Chapin, South Carolina

In her seventeen years as principal of Lake Murray Elementary School (LMES), Claire Thompson has been able to create a well-structured environment in which all 1,006 students feel special and loved. An experienced leader, Thompson is aware that she could not have done this alone. She works hard to build connections with parents and community and personally expresses her appreciation for their support. By working with the local Rotary Club and the Chapin Woman's Club, Thompson has secured needed dictionaries and books for her students. Thompson also understands the importance of high expectations—not only for herself but for staff and teachers, as well. “As a high-performing school, reliance on ‘good enough’ can be the enemy of ‘being great’ at what we do,” says Thompson. She provides ongoing professional development opportunities to ensure that teachers are well-trained. “She is right there going through the hard parts with us,” says teacher Sherry Carroll. To support students of every skill level, Thompson has implemented tiered interventions, WIN (What I Need) time, online enrichment programs, and summer camps. She is a member of the South Carolina Reading Association. She holds a B.A. and an M.Ed from the University of South Carolina.