Dr. Salvatore Minolfo
Aiken County's school system covers plenty of acreage, and Sal Minolfo is familiar with a substantial portion of it, having served in a variety of roles over the past 20-plus years, en route to his current status as the Aiken County Principal of the Year.
The 1990 Silver Bluff High School graduate, who lives in Aiken, is now based at Belvedere Elementary School, having stepped into that role at the start of the 2016-17 school year. He reached the quarter-century mark as an educator, starting his classroom journey by way of Jackson Elementary and Jackson Middle. He completed high school in three years.
The heart of Aiken, he confirmed, is among his favorite haunts, as are two of the South's most popular tourist destinations.
"I definitely enjoy downtown Aiken — all of the things that they offer downtown, with live entertainment on Thursdays and some weekends, and a good meal — and I certainly enjoy hanging out with friends and doing those kinds of things."
He added, "I take a trip annually with my daughters to New Orleans, which is a favorite for us. My two oldest girls ... are both students at the College of Charleston, so I go visit them usually once a month or so."
Comprising that duo are Olivia, preparing for her senior year; and Elena, preparing for life as a sophomore. The youngest of the Minolfo ladies is Isabella, heading into her junior year at South Aiken High.
The father of the house also has roles as a member of NewSpring Church, in Aiken, where he is a greeter and a home-group leader. "It's a satellite from a church that started in Anderson, South Carolina," he said.
Aiken resident Brad Hyman, one of Minolfo's neighbors from church, said Minolfo has outstanding communication and leadership skills. "He has an ability to have very difficult conversations and try to stay as objective as possible without letting emotions take over, and in my experience, that's very rare."
Becky Carrier, the Aiken County school district's bookkeeper for federal programs, described Minolfo as a godly man with a good personality and a strong sense of humor.
Recalling her years of interaction with him when both were based at Redcliffe, she added, "He is a hard worker, and ... I always saw that he really loved the kids. He really cared about each and every one of them, to ensure that they would learn."
His background, following graduation from USCA Aiken in 1994, also includes teaching at Leavelle McCampbell Middle (five years), followed by administration service at Redcliffe Elementary (six years as assistant principal and four as principal), various roles in the district office (with emphasis on special education), another year of teaching at Leavelle, a year as principal at Blenheim Elementary/Middle, in Marlboro County, and a year of teaching at Aiken Middle.
His right-hand woman at Belvedere Elementary is Kimmerie Allen, the assistant principal.
Minolfo confirmed he is enthusiastically awaiting Belvedere Elementary's renovation, meaning a fresh face and a variety of new features to a structure that dates back to 1954. "It's going to dramatically change the school," he said.
Additions will include a second story and "about 20 classrooms, so I'm super-excited about it," he said. "It's going to be nice – definitely something that the community will be very proud of and be invested in."
Read the full Aiken Standard article here.