top of page

Inspiration Award

The Inspiration Award celebrates an individual or group who is supportive of Beaufort County schools and has demonstrated extraordinary dedication, passion, and skills
that influence and inspire students.



David Lauderdale

Inspiration Award

Each year, The Foundation for Educational Excellence recognizes a person or group by presenting the Peggy May Inspiration Award. This is given to someone who has been supportive of or attended Beaufort County public schools and whose accomplishments have distinguished him or her in their chosen profession. The passion, skills and success of this individual have positively influenced and inspired others, to recognize their potential and to encourage students to invent their own futures. ​


We are excited to announce that the 2022 Peggy May Inspiration Award honoree is David Lauderdale. His creativity and passion over many decades as a journalist and storyteller, have made him a well-respected contributor to the vibrant growth of our Beaufort County communities.

David Lauderdale is a retired senior editor and columnist at The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette. In his career, spanning more than four decades, Lauderdale has won many state and regional awards for his writing on the environment, mental health, the Gullah culture, literacy and local history and culture.

Beginning at The Packet in 1977 as reporter, Lauderdale worked his way up from news editor to managing editor to editorial page editor before retiring in 2020. Twice Lauderdale was given the President’s Award for journalism excellence - the highest employee honor among the 30 newspapers nationwide owned by McClatchy. Throughout his career, he has always been an advocate for the people of our community and his support has been evident in his inspirational writing that has touched the lives of so many in the Lowcountry.


In the community, Lauderdale served as Hilton Head Island’s St. Patrick’s Parade grand marshal in 2019. He has also received the Alice Glenn Doughtie Good Citizenship Award, the MLK Jr. Community Service Award, the Guyla Hurst Advocacy and Leadership Award from the Hilton Head chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the Community Service Award from the Gullah Museum of Hilton Head Island, the Arnie Burdick Media Award for coverage of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage golf tournament, the Champion of Literacy Award from Literacy Volunteers of the Lowcountry, and an honorary Paul Harris Fellow from the Rotary Club of Hilton Head Island.


Growing up, Lauderdale was a preacher’s kid in Atlanta and a graduate of Erskine College in South Carolina. His wife, Sybil, is a retired Beaufort County School District middle school teacher. Their two grown children were raised on Hilton Head and educated in the public schools. Now enjoying his retirement, Lauderdale still teaches an adult Sunday School class at First Presbyterian Church called “Lowcountry Lessons,” and is a frequent public speaker. He also writes a weekly column about Lowcountry life for The Packet.


  • 2021 Recipient: EVERYONE working in the Beaufort County School District In a unique twist, the
    Foundation recognized everyone in each school for their efforts to keep students connected and
    involved, whether in person or virtually - over 3,000 educators, administrators, custodians,
    cafeteria workers, maintenance personnel, plus many, many more who labored behind the
    scenes to make the best of a difficult situation.

  • 2020 Recipient: Kathy Cramer  While teaching special education in the Beaufort County School system, as well as acting as the Co-Director of Area 8 Special Olympics, she worked diligently to fulfill her dream of seeing Special Olympics categorized as a school sport. After 33 years of teaching, Kathy retired from the school system to dedicate herself full-time to providing recreational opportunities to those with special needs.


  • 2019 Recipient: Dr. Jane T. UpshawDistinguished Chancellor Emerita, University of South Carolina Beaufort, who has shown devoted leadership throughout her career for the advancement of education  in the Lowcountry

  • 2018 Recipient: Dr. Emory Campbell, recognized for contributions in the cultural and environmental heritage of the Lowcountry

  • 2017 Recipients: The Esquivel Family, champions for the Latino community

  • 2016 Recipient: Dr. Narendra P. Sharma, the founder of the Neighborhood Outreach Connection

  • 2015 Recipient: Peggy May, a retired educator, former chair of the Foundation for Educational Excellence, and former county and state Director of Adult Literacy

  • 2014 Recipient: Candice Glover,  2008 Beaufort High School graduate, who rose through the ranks to become the 2013 American Idol on FOX 

  • 2013 Recipient: Dr. Wayne Carbiener, former Beaufort County School Board member and avid supporter of the Foundation for Educational Excellence

  • 2012 Recipient: Orchid Paulmeier, accomplished chef, finalist of The Next Food Network Star television series and active parent volunteer at children's schools in Beaufort County

  • 2011 Recipient: David Vincent Young, renowned chef and entrepreneur and 1989 graduate of Hilton Head Island High School

  • 2010 Recipient: Jonathan Green, recognized as one of our nation's outstanding African American artists and 1973 graduate of Beaufort High School 

bottom of page