Six Greenville County Schools graduates comprise the inaugural induction class of the new GCS Hall of Fame.
The inaugural class includes scientist Charles Townes, former South Carolina Governor and U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, professional football player Andre Goodman, opera singer Elizabeth “Betsy” Bishop, former GCS Superintendent Thomas Kerns, and news anchor Jane Robelot DeCarvalho. They will be inducted Thursday night.
The Hall of Fame honors GCS graduates who have made a substantial or significant contribution at the local, regional, national, or international levels in such areas as education, arts, business, media, public service, philanthropy, medicine, military, science, or athletics.
Hall of Fame nominees must have graduated at least 10 years prior to their nominations and exemplify honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, and other evidence of good character.
Charles Hard Townes
Whether he was conceiving the idea that led to the laser, an invention that would transform science and technology, or listening to presentations of third-graders at the Greenville school for highly gifted students bearing his name, Charles Townes had undying curiosity.
The 1931 Greenville High graduate, who died in 2015 at the age of 99, won the 1964 Nobel Prize for his revolutionary work. During his eight decade-long career, Townes advised presidents and served as chairman of a committee to NASA’s manned space program.
Townes, who graduated from Furman at age 19, was seated on a bench in Franklin Square Park in Washington, D.C., one spring morning in 1951 when the solution to a problem of how to create a pure beam of short-wavelength, high-frequency light came to him. Fruits of his discovery include computer hard drives, laser optical surgery, and satellite broadcasting.
Andre Goodman dreamed of playing in the NBA. He played 10 seasons in the NFL instead.
Goodman, a 1997 graduate of Eastside High, was a promising basketball player when two classmates talked him into trying out for football. Goodman ended up earning All-State honors as a wide receiver and defensive back and went on to earn a scholarship at the University of South Carolina, where he was a four-year letterman and two-year starter.
While a redshirt freshman at USC, he suffered a severe knee injury, something that some thought would end his football playing days. Instead, he was drafted in the third round of the 2002 draft and played with the Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins, and Denver Broncos. Goodman is back at USC as its Director of Football Development.
Elizabeth “Betsy” Bishop’s career plan was to win the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 1993, get into its Young Artists Program and be rich and famous by the time she was 30.
Bishop, who attended Berea High and the Fine Arts Center and is a 1985 GCS graduate, won the competition but wasn’t chosen as one of the Young Artists. But Bishop didn’t let that stop her from a career as a mezzo-soprano that has taken her all over the world.
Bishop, known for her powerful, nuanced portrayals and “lustrous” voice, made her MET debut in 1994, and she continues to be a company regular. In addition, Bishop maintains a close association with her home company, Washington National Opera. She is also the founder and head of the Potomac Vocal Institute in Washington, D.C.
Thomas E. Kerns
Thomas E. Kerns began his career as a teacher in a segregated school system and went on to become Greenville County’s first African-American superintendent.
Kerns was a French and social studies teacher at Sterling High School. He went on to serve as a guidance counselor, school administrator, and district administrator. Kerns, who died in 2007, became GCS’ fifth superintendent of the School District of Greenville County in 1989.
Kerns, who graduated from Sterling in 1949, implemented an Affirmative Action hiring plan in the district, the first one for any South Carolina school system, and pushed for better relations between the district and the community. He was named one of the top 100 school executives in 1993 by The Executive Educator magazine and was Superintendent of the Year in 1991.
Richard W. Riley
Richard W. Riley isn’t afraid of a challenge. Riley, a 1950 Greenville High graduate, was commissioned in the U.S. Navy and stationed overseas when he contracted rheumatoid spondylitis, a rare degenerative spinal disease that left him with a fused spine. A Navy medical specialist predicted he would spend his life in a wheelchair. He did not know Riley’s determination.
As a member of the state House, Riley led the Young Turks, a group that wanted to reform the good ol’ boy system and give power and authority to local government. As governor, Riley mobilized support for the Education Improvement Act, which has been called by some as the most important education legislation ever passed in South Carolina.
He went on to serve as U.S. Secretary of Education in the administration of President Bill Clinton.
Jane Robelot DeCarvalho
Jane Robelot DeCarvalho, a 1978 Wade Hampton High graduate, is a storyteller. DeCarvalho, who was senior class president and Homecoming queen, began her television career with WSPA-TV, the CBS affiliate in the Greenville-Spartanburg market.
She co-anchored “CBS This Morning” from 1995 to 1999. During that time, she won two national Emmy Awards for journalistic excellence. After leaving New York, DeCarvalho was the lead anchor for the CBS affiliate WGCL-TV in Atlanta.
DeCarvalho and her husband, Emmy Award-winning combat cameraman Mario DeCarvalho, started a high-definition video production and marketing company. She is also a contributed special projects anchor for NBC affiliate WYFF-TV, hosting its “Chronicle” specials. In 2009, she won a Peabody Award for the documentary “Chronicle: Paul’s Gift.”
The Hall of Fame is a project of GCS and the nonprofit Greenville County Schools Foundation.
Watch to find out more about the inductees: