At the Governor’s School, we are guided by our mission and values. With a full commitment to diversity and inclusion, we take a clear stand against discrimination and inequality.

Over the course of the past several years, the Governor’s School has implemented the following important initiatives that focus on increasing diversity, inclusion, and equity for all students and employees. These actions lay the groundwork for progress and future opportunities for positive change.

Fostering a Diverse Campus Community

The Governor’s School is doing more than ever before to create a culturally accepting and inclusive campus community.


The Governor’s School is nationally recognized for the quality of the academic curriculum and pre-professional arts training students receive. They are not only taught by a faculty of scholars and professional artists, but also by a wide array of guest artists and speakers with different backgrounds and viewpoints to enhance the curriculum and provide a rich, challenging learning experience for all students. 

We recognize the importance of students seeing themselves in the curriculum wherever possible, and our curricular initiatives in both arts and academic classes strongly support diversity and inclusion. In consultation with state standards and national accrediting organizations in the arts, our faculty consult with their Department Chairs to plan curriculum and instruction in ways that represent and support diversity and inclusion. This curriculum is under steady and ongoing examination, and this will continue to be an ongoing focus in the future. 

It is school policy to select materials that support the educational goals and objectives established by the school's Board of Directors. These materials include a wide range of learning resources, with diversity of appeal and the presentation of different points of view to meet the learning needs of students and the instructional needs of faculty.

Diversity and inclusion are central to several of the criteria for the selection of instructional materials/curriculum:

  • Learning resources shall be designed to provide a background of information that motivates students and staff to examine their own attitudes and behavior, to comprehend their duties, responsibilities, rights and privileges as participating citizens in our society, and to make intelligent judgment in their daily lives. 
  • Learning resources shall provide information on opposing sides of controversial issues so students may develop under guidance the practice of critical analysis.
  • Learning resources shall be designed to help students gain an awareness of our pluralistic society.
Guest Artist Programming

Increasing diversity in our guest artist series has been a critical part of our strategic plan for incorporating diversity in all departments as well as in our schoolwide Presidential Guest Artist series that has featured former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove (2018) as well as choreographers Alonzo King and Garth Fagan (both 2019). These Presidential Guest Artist residencies are also planned with an Outreach component so that the impact extends beyond the walls of the Governor’s School to reach students and teachers statewide.

Over the past three years, many guest artists of color have enhanced arts curriculum through master classes and artist talks. These guests are at the top of their respective fields, and they can and do offer our students a clear and compelling example. Building time for direct interaction with these guests is also intentional as a way to help students build networks and create relationships with these role models. These include poet Hanif Abdurraqib, choreographer Jennifer Archibald, baritone Phillip Boykin, clarinetist Ben Chen, dancer Thaddeus Davis, pianist Howard Kim, poet Ada Limón, photographer Armon Means, actor André de Shields, pianist Yekwon Sunwoo, soprano Louise Toppin, conductor Joseph Young, and many others. 

During the fall 2020 semester, the following alumni led guest artist talks and master classes:

  • Travis LeMont Ballenger (Drama, '05), who is currently producing the Michael Jackson musical due to open soon on Broadway.
  • Carolyn Bolton (Dance, '05), a freelance dancer who previously danced with Rambert, the UK's largest national contemporary dance company in London.
  • Whitney Huell (Dance, '04) dances with the Kansas City Ballet and was the second African American ballerina to join the company.
  • Jasminn Johnson (Drama, '12), a Juilliard graduate, teacher, and actor who recently appeared in Blues for an Alabama Sky at the Keen Theater in NYC.
  • Peyton Johnson (Music, '14), a trumpet player who attended the Eastman School of Music and is currently pursuing a Master in Music in trumpet at the Hartt School.
Student Activities & Events

We proudly celebrate and support the diversity of our student body through ongoing efforts that include student groups such as the Multicultural Club, Feminist Club, and Gay-Straight Alliance.  In collaboration with school-sponsored groups, our community honors educational emphasis periods such as Black History Month, National Hispanic Heritage Month, Women’s History Month, and Holocaust Remembrance Day as learning opportunities for the entire campus community each year.  

Additionally, the school seeks to include diverse guest speakers in Community Meetings. These have included Dr. John Lane, Director of Academic Affairs at the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education; Fletcher Smith, Former South Carolina State Representative; and South Carolina Representative Chandra Dillard.

Creating a Diverse Student Body

The Governor’s School has made a concerted effort to extend its reach into communities throughout the state with the intent of being a catalyst for positive change for all citizens. 

Student Recruitment

With each annual recruitment cycle, the Admissions team is charged with seeking a diverse applicant pool of students representing all 46 counties of the state. We request access to recruit in every public middle and high school in South Carolina, along with other community organizations and partners. Special emphasis is given to areas that have been identified as Presidential Priority Counties, representing regions where students have had little to no exposure to Governor’s School programs, and from where we have had very few applicants. 

The school recognizes that there are systemic and deeply ingrained barriers to many students having access to arts education programs and also recognizes that these counties tend to be heavily populated by people of color. The Governor’s School is committed to removing obstacles to diversify our student population and serve all students and teachers of the state.

Student Body Demographics

Fall 2023

  • Total Students: 233
  • 60 (26%) Male / 173 (74%) Female
  • 166 (71%) White / 67 (29%) Non-White
    • 11 (5%) Asian
    • 30 (13%) Black
    • 15 (6%) Hispanic/Latino
    • 11 (5%) Two or More Races

Expanding Access to Arts Education

The Governor’s School’s Outreach programs continue to be the school’s most significant area of growth in reaching diverse populations.  As part of our school’s mission to serve as a resource for teachers and students throughout the state, our efforts have grown from serving 13,670 individuals in 2015 to reaching over 161,831 individuals in 42 counties during the last academic year through 657 arts education experiences. 

Increasing Diversity Among Employees

The Governor’s School’s ongoing strategic plan includes recruiting and retaining diverse employees. The school actively seeks a broad pool of qualified applicants for every position that becomes available. Hiring supervisors and the Office of Human Resources are charged with distributing job postings widely including statewide publications, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, communication with community partners, and strategic requests of school partners. School policies, such as ensuring diverse representation on hiring committees, support this effort.

The Governor's School is an equal employment opportunity agency. We provide affirmative action and equal opportunity employment for all qualified persons regardless of race, color, gender — including the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, national origin, age, religion, or disability.

Employee Recruitment

The Governor's School is actively recruiting with:

  • Urban League of the Upstate 
  • Hispanic Alliance of Greenville
  • Hispanic American Women’s Association
  • United Way for the Latinos United group
  • Allen University
  • Claflin University
  • Benedict College
  • South Carolina State University

The Office of Human Resources is currently researching additional minority-based organizations to actively recruit future employees.

Employee Demographics

Data includes Permanent FTEs and Temporary Employees. As of August 2023.

  • Total Employees: 177
  • 106 (60%) Female / 71 (40%) Male 
  • 129 (78%) White / 36 (22%) Non-White
    • 28 (17%) Black
    • 6 (4%) Hispanic/Latino
    • 2 (1%) Two or More


  • Total Faculty: 83
  • 65 (82%) White / 15 (18%) Non-White
    • 11 (13%) Black
    • 4 (5%) Hispanic/Latino


  • Total Staff: 94
  • 69 (73%) White / 25 (27%) Non-White
    • 20 (21%) Black
    • 3 ( 3%) Hispanic/Latino
    • 1 (1%) Two or More 
    • 1 (1%) Other

Student Discipline and Reporting 

The Governor’s School takes any act of discrimination on campus very seriously and has updated reporting mechanisms and the disciplinary processes for swift action and fair outcomes.

Disciplinary Process

The Governor’s School uses a standing discipline committee with diverse representation from the campus community.  This committee seeks to ensure consistency between cases, yet also ensure that outcomes address individual circumstances. The current structure was implemented in the fall of 2017.  The discipline committee undergoes annual orientation and training to ensure equitable implementation of consequences.

Lower level discipline, typically Class I violations and Class II concerns not directed to the discipline committee, is reviewed by the Assistant Director of Student Services, who also serves as the school’s Discrimination Compliance Coordinator for student concerns.

The school implemented restorative justice practices for discipline in the 2017-2018 school year.  When appropriate, this work seeks alternative disciplinary outcomes other than suspension or dismissal. Training in restorative practices continues to be implemented for employees.  As a part of this work, the school continues its Engage program to support students facing challenges related to drugs or alcohol, offering counseling and treatment options as a positive alternative to discipline. New criteria for entry into the Engage program were implemented in the fall of 2019 to ensure that students and employees understand the purpose of the program and its equitable goals.

Parents are active partners within the discipline process and are notified of all Class II and Class III violations as well as repeated Class I concerns. 

A review of suspensions and dismissals over the past five years reflects that 24.07% of these disciplinary outcomes were for black students, 70.37% were for white students, and 3.7% were for Asian students.


The Governor’s School has internal mechanisms and support structures by which the campus community can safely report concerns on these matters. Students are encouraged to report concerns to all employees and employees are charged with addressing issues as they arise.  Additionally, employees submit an incident report to document concerns received and action taken. Formal reports are received by the school’s Discrimination Compliance Coordinator who determines steps to resolution in conjunction with appropriate staff. Additionally, members of the school community can report concerns externally to the Office of Civil Rights at the US Department of Education. In both cases, reports are confidential, but not anonymous.

We pledge to uphold our commitment to an inclusive and equitable learning community.

Help Support Diversity Initiatives

While the Governor’s School has been continuously working to ensure that all students feel safe, supported, and celebrated in our community, this important work is ongoing. We ask every member of our community to help by supporting the above initiatives and to share any ideas that you have to improve our school. If you have suggestions, please contact a member of the Administration.