David Scherping likes solving problems. And helping others.
Interest in the first led him in the fall of 1999 to leave his job as a middle school science and social studies teacher at Saluda School to become a computer technician for all Polk County Schools. With the new century approaching and concerns about the year 2000 wreaking havoc on computer systems, Scherping wanted to help the district battle the Y2K bug, then assist with the growing use of technology in classroom instruction.
Helping others around Polk County Schools – and all of Polk County – has been a Scherping staple since. He has guided the district into widespread use of technology, taken on responsibility for student testing, become the go-to guy for infrastructure issues. He is an active presence in the community, serving in various positions with PANGAEA, Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry, Tryon Swim Club and the Morgan Chapel Village Homeowners Association. In 2017, he and his wife, Carlann, stepped up to keep a local Christmas tradition, the Shepherd’s Feast, alive when its founder, Ross Fox, passed away.
Years of solving problems, of serving others, have led to Scherping being named Assistant Superintendent for Polk County Schools. The Polk County Board of Education recently made the new title official.
“For almost three decades he has dedicated himself to bettering the lives of our students and supporting our staff,” said Superintendent Aaron Greene. “His extensive organizational knowledge and invaluable experience in so many different aspects of our work make him indispensable to the district.
“In my opinion, there is no one more deserving of the title and recognition. I am so fortunate to work alongside Dave Scherping and to see the enormous impact he has on our students and schools each and every day. He is indeed a great man and remains steadfast to our motto of ‘Doing What’s Right for Students’.”
Scherping, who has worked in the district since 1993, is indeed devoted to that motto, developed by former superintendent William J. Miller and a guiding principle for all who serve Polk County’s children.
“Polk County Schools has given me unbelievable opportunities,” he said. “I’ve tried to take these opportunities and continue to guide our schools in a way that gives our teachers and students opportunities to shine, removing as many barriers and distractions as possible.
“I’m thankful for this new position and look forward to many more years of ‘Doing What’s Right for Students’.”
As Scherping settled into his first foray outside the classroom, that computer technician position, and helped the district successfully move into the 2000s, he soon discovered an unexpected benefit of the role, one that created a foundation for the work he does today.
“One of my favorite things about my time as the computer technician was that I really got to know every employee in the school system,” he said. “Eventually, everyone needed some type of assistance with the computers that were working their way into every aspect of school business. Being in and out of every school and office, I really got to see that it is the staff that makes Polk County special.
“I was fortunate to watch Polk County Schools rise to being one of the best school systems in the state. Our students didn’t change significantly during this time, but instead our staff learned how to expect more of the students and guide them toward even greater success.”
Scherping helped play a key role in the technology plan for Polk County Middle School, then Polk County Early College, two projects that arrived as the district began expanding its use of technology. With that came a need for robust Internet access at all schools, which in turn led Scherping to become involved with a new local organization.
“I was fortunate enough to be involved in the construction of Polk County Early College,” he said. “This was a new kind of school dedicated to both the educational needs of students and the financial support of families. The school allows students to earn both a high school diploma and an associate degree, absolutely free. It was exciting to work with architect John Walters on the renovation of an existing building into a new type of school.
“By 2004 all teachers were taking attendance and storing grades in the online gradebook called NCWISE. Since all staff need reliable, daily Internet access, Polk County Schools needed a better Internet solution. I was fortunate to be a founding board member for our local networking company PANGAEA. Working with Mark Pumphrey, Jeff Byrd, Marche Pittman, Stu Davidson and Ron Walters, we were able to build a fiber network to provide high speed Internet access to all of our schools. Creating this company with a vision for what schools and businesses would need in the future was a very exciting project. The amount of data we are currently sending across a network designed in 2001 is amazing.”
Scherping’s team today includes a trio of Polk County Schools graduates – Trey Staton, DeShane Briscoe and Eli Edwards – that handles all of the district’s technology support. Scherping’s duties have also expanded under Greene, which made his new title a natural fit.
“As Superintendent Greene started to lead our students and staff, my role has changed even more,” Scherping said. “Much of the infrastructure that supports our schools is getting older and in need of renovation. As I have worked with architects and engineers on possible upgrades, they have been very impressed with the work our maintenance staff does to keep our older equipment running well. Although the COVID pandemic has put some of these projects on hold, we are still planning to start on some major facility upgrades in the near future.
“I now work more closely with our Board of Education in the development of policies directing the operation of our schools. The years of experience I have in being in each of our schools, seeing how they operate and what they are doing for our students, has really helped when writing or adapting policies for our schools. If you don’t understand what makes Polk County Schools so successful, you can’t write effective policies and procedures to keep us moving forward.”