(Columbia, SC) – Richland One will name a center that will provide comprehensive programs and services to get children ready to start school in memory of longtime school board member Vince Ford.
At its January 24 meeting, the Richland One Board of School Commissioners approved a board-appointed committee’s recommendation that the facility be named Vince Ford Early Learning Center. Ford’s wife, Patricia, and his daughter, Robyn, were in attendance at the meeting.
A graduate of A.C. Flora High School, Ford was elected to the Richland One Board of School Commissioners in 1992 and served for 24 years. During his tenure, he served as chairman eight times. He was inducted into the Richland One Hall of Fame in 2019. Ford, who was the senior vice president of community affairs with Prisma Health, passed away in December 2022.
“We are so delighted to name this facility after such a gentle giant, my friend and mentor the Honorable Vince Ford,” said Richland One Board Chairwoman Cheryl Harris. “Vince lived his life advocating for the health, well-being and educational opportunities for the children he both loved and served within this community.”
The 71,000-square-foot center, which will have a capacity to serve 312 students, will be built on a site at Caughman Road and Rawlinson Road in the Lower Richland community. It will serve children six weeks old to five years old, offering a full-day, full-year program.
Along with classrooms, the comprehensive facility will include a state-of-the-art media center a family clinic, a dental room, a food pantry, a student café, a family engagement room and professional development rooms. There also will be multiple indoor and outdoor play spaces to meet the development needs of young children. Mental health and other support services will be available to families.
“Mr. Ford’s leadership, legacy and passionate belief in the power of education will live on in many ways, including through the work that will be done at this center to ensure that children have a strong foundation for school and that families have the support, resources and assistance they need,” said Richland One Superintendent Dr. Craig Witherspoon.
As part of the vote to name the center in Ford’s memory, the Board also approved the committee’s recommendation that his name, biographical profile and information about the impact he made in Richland One be displayed in the building’s entry foyer and that it include “How are the children?” Ford often asked that question, which is the traditional greeting in the Maasai culture in Africa. The traditional response is “All the children are well.”
A groundbreaking ceremony for Vince Ford Early Learning Center will be held in February.