Back to School: Barnwell Academy welcomes new headmaster

  • Barnwell Academy welcomed several new staff members this year, including Jessica Chitty, Vickie Allen, Donna Dodge, Bridgette Brown and Heidi Lewis.

Several new faces are joining the staff of Barnwell Academy, including two retired public school educators.

Heidi Lewis, who recently retired from Guinyard-Butler Middle School after 32 years as librarian, is Barnwell Academy’s new headmaster.

Before coming to Barnwell in 1983, Lewis taught elementary school for four years and was also a long-term substitute for the Department of Defense in Germany. She has a bachelor’s degree in secondary education as well as two master’s degrees – one in librarianship and one in psychology and counseling.

Lewis said she was called about the job by a board member because they felt she had a “unique set of skills” from her long career in education. “It’s a pleasure to be working with an organization like Barnwell Academy,” said Lewis, who is also excited about getting back to her roots by working with younger children.

“We feel that with her expertise from a long and successful career in education, that Barnwell Academy will continue to be successful in education of our students,” according to a message on the school’s website.

She said she felt the school is a good fit for her because “it’s a nurturing environment” where there is a small teacher-student ratio and she can get to know each child. “I want to continue to improve education, expand our numbers and be a presence in community doing service work.”

Pre-kindergarten is taught by Bridgette Brown and aide Jessica Chitty. Vickie Allen is the kindergarten and first grade teacher while retired Barnwell Elementary teacher Donna Dodge is teaching second and third grades. Teresa Bowers is the Bible and music teacher while Chris Bozard is teaching physical education.

In addition to being headmaster, Lewis will oversee the fourth through seventh graders. Her role will be more supervisory as students in those four grades will be using the South Carolina Virtual Charter School. SCVCS is a tuition-free online public school that uses technology and is self-paced. Lewis said a friend’s young son attends SCVCS and is reading books she didn’t read until high school.

Most students started August 17, although three-year-old pre-k students start August 24. Lewis said they still have slots in most grades, except for pre-kindergarten which is maxed out at 20 students.

The school is located at 10982 Ellenton Street in Barnwell.

For more information, visit or call (803) 259-4465. Lewis can also be reached by email at