Campus Director for Saluda, Edgefield Counties 'Couldn't Ask for a Better Team'
When Dr. Brenda Edwards had to be out of work for medical reasons last year, her team had her back.
“I was out of work for a month!” she recalled. “My staff took the reins and kept everything going. I didn’t have to worry about a thing, because our staff is so awesome.”
The now fully recovered director for Piedmont Technical College’s Saluda and Edgefield county campuses has been with the college for more than 17 years serving in roles from advisor, counselor, and facilitator to instructor and administrator. Her first connection with PTC was as a student.
Before attending PTC, she worked in the child care industry (and loved it), but a lack of benefits and long hours were unsustainable over the long term. “I had no idea what I wanted to do. The counselors did a career assessment on me.” The result led her to enroll in the Human Services Program.
After graduating from PTC, Edwards went on to earn a bachelor’s in behavioral science at Erskine College, as well as a master’s in education from the University of South Carolina and a doctorate in general psychology from Northcentral University in Prescott, AZ.
Before moving into her campus director role a little over a year ago, Edwards was the college’s associate director of dual enrollment, working on the Lex Walters Campus-Greenwood. One perk of her latest role is a much shorter commute. For 15 years, she drove 45 minutes each way to and from the Greenwood Campus. Now she lives just 10 minutes away from either the Saluda or Edgefield campus.
“In the beginning, I was overwhelmed and wondered how I could handle two campuses at once,” she said. Splitting her time between campuses, she soon learned that her team of part-time professionals ensured she was fully informed at all times and was supported in her challenging work. “My staff and team on both campuses are absolutely fantastic!”
On the day of her interview for this story, Edwards was juggling a number of administrative and routine maintenance issues. Her years of experience at PTC give her a decided advantage.
“I have made some extremely lasting relationships and friendships with faculty and staff,” she said. “If I have a question, I know exactly who to call.”
Edwards’ management style is truly inquiry-based, and she believes in exploring every possible action. She also believes in letting her part-time staff do their job without distraction.
“I think it’s very important to research and look at all of the options and not just one way,” she said. “Our staff takes a lot of pride and works really well with students. They go the extra mile; they really do. I can’t say enough about them. … They do what they need to do without me hovering over them. I think they give me respect because of that. We do a lot of texting. We care for one another.”
Edwards and her husband, Hoyt, are the parents of 24-year-old Jared, who has a high-functioning form of autism. Jared has been taking commercial art courses on the Greenwood campus, which is a big deal. “For him to go to PTC in Greenwood without his mother being there and doing as well as he has, it’s a huge success,” she said. “Of course, he has a lot of ‘moms’ on campus he can turn to. … I am very, very proud of him.”
Like the Diversified Agriculture Program staff in Saluda, you might say that the Edwards family buys animal feed in bulk. “We have a lot of animals,” she explained. “Two dogs — Cooper and Lexie — as well as three cats and 24 chickens!” Hoyt Edwards operates Edwards Auto Service, which also is home to two “shop dogs,” Sissy and Bubba.
Accordingly, Edwards has a soft spot for the animals that live on the Saluda Campus.
“We absolutely love our cows here,” she said. “We are so proud of the Diversified Agriculture Program. … Roger (Estridge, instructor) has extraordinary students.”
In her free time, Edwards enjoys reading and is a big fan of old science fiction movies as well as the original Star Trek TV series. She is as proud of her team as Captain Kirk is of his extraordinary crew.
“My favorite thing about this job is my staff. I really mean that. We genuinely care about each other, and we care about our students and the community. All of us love working with our amazing students,” she said. “I can’t ask for a better team on either campus. They give 100%. There is a lot of pride.”
• Brenda Edwards at the PTC Saluda County Campus
• Edwards in a classroom on the PTC Saluda County Campus
• Edwards with the beloved campus cows
• The Edwards family, from left: Hoyt, Brenda, and Jared