Chip Whitt teaches finance and accounting at G. Frank Russell Career Center. His love for teaching earned him Teacher of the Year honors for the second time. His first was in 2009.
“You can only get nominated once every five years,” Whitt said. He won in both years he was eligible.
When he graduated from Greenwood High School in 1988, however, he had other aspirations.
Whitt earned a golf scholarship and attended Clemson University. While he studied management and graduated in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science degree, he focused on the game.
“People who know me know I’m a golfer,” Whitt said. An injury in August 1992, however, put his dreams on hold.
“I tore the main ligament in my hand,” Whitt said. “I had my first surgery in April 1993.”
Whitt decided to make the best of a bad situation.
“I worked in the golf business in Columbia for a few months until I got married in October,” Whitt said. “Then I went to work for the State Credit Union (in Columbia) and worked for them until 1995. At that time, my wife and I moved back to Greenwood and I went to work for Greenwood Bank & Trust. It was while working for them that I moved into Trust and Investments.”
Whitt realized younger people were making basic financial mistakes and often asked him questions. The epiphany helped him make a major change in his life.
“I wanted to teach fundamentals to help students lead a financially successful life,” Whitt said. “That is when I entered the PACE program.”
The Program of Alternative Certification of Educators program helped him on his new path. According to the program’s website, PACE helps recruit people who have earned degrees in fields outside of education. It is a selective program and only a limited number of applicants are accepted.
Whitt still is an active golfer despite chronic pain from his injuries. He has won several local golf tournaments, including the Festival of Flowers tournament and the Greenwood County Amateur. Whitt also teamed up with Jeff McCutcheon and Walter Todd for several tournaments. He recently was notified of another honor.
“I have been chosen by the South Carolina Golf Coaches Association to coach the North team at this year’s North/South All-Star golf matches,” Whitt said. “These matches will take place May 21-24 in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, at the Golden Bear (Golf Club).”
Whitt also discovered news of a name change at the center where he works.
“The Career Center is being changed this year to the G. Frank Russell Technology Center,” Whitt said. “The (school) district is in the process of changing the name in all applicable areas. We want to implement technology into everything.”
New programs will include biomedicine, culinary arts, health sciences and a new engineering program in conjunction with Project Lead The Way.
When he is not working or golfing, Whitt enjoys time with his wife Robin, director of finance at Hospice Care of Piedmont, and their two children, ages 16 and 12.
Whitt understands not every student will remember his lessons after graduation, but he is thankful for those who do.
“I don’t really teach for recognition,” Whitt said. “When students get engaged with parents, it makes me feel good. It shows I’m doing a good job.”