John Stevenson, PhD

One of South Carolina’s leading educators, Dr. John Stevenson, was born on February 1, 1931 in Columbia, South Carolina. His parents were the Reverend John R. Stevenson and Mrs. Lillie M. Stevenson. He attended schools in South Carolina and received his BS from Allen University, an African-Methodist Episcopal school in Columbia. His education at Allen prepared him to compete at the best integrated, northern colleges with students who had better opportunities than he. Upon graduation from Allen, John Stevenson went into the US Army Corps. He was a duty officer in the Department of Army Cryptography at the Pentagon. He later did a tour in France and Germany. His experience in the US Army was the first time he had competed in an integrated society in which all people can live. An exceptional educator, he served as a teacher, counselor, principal, assistant superintendent, associate superintendent and deputy superintendent of schools. In 1986 Dr. Stevenson became Superintendent of Schools for Richland County District I. He was the first African-American to hold the position of superintendent. Dr. Stevenson has been an advocate of positive educational change. During his professional career, he has strongly supported mandatory kindergartens for young people, smooth desegregation of public schools, and established high standards of academic excellence. Under his leadership Richland School District I has received national and state acclaim for excellence in some of the district’s programs. A social and civic leader, Stevenson has served on many boards such as The Columbia Music Association, Koger Center for the Performing Arts, Benjamin E. Mays Academy for Leadership Development, State Board of Education, Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce and the Columbia Urban League. Dr. Stevenson’s message to young people is, “Always believe in yourself. Success comes with hard work and belief in yourself. With this you can accomplish anything.”