McMillan to leave Chapman at end of year

Principal Andrew McMillan talks to senior Dylan Lunsford in the hallway. McMillan will leave Chapman at the end of the school year.

In March, Chapman Principal Andrew McMillan announced that he would be leaving his position to become principal of Spartanburg High School.

McMillan is a 2001 Chapman graduate and spent four years as an assistant principal before he was named principal in 2018. His close connection with the school, he says, made the role much more unique.

“Dr. Garner called my office and said, ‘I want you to do this job. I think you can handle it,’ and it was very special for me,” McMillan said. “My dad was principal from 1988 to 1998, and it was really a dream come true to (become principal, too).”

As a Chapman administrator, McMillan has celebrated many accomplishments. In 2018, Chapman won the Palmetto’s Finest award, the highest honor a South Carolina school can receive. In 2020, Chapman was named a National Blue Ribbon School. In 2022, McMillan was declared the South Carolina Secondary School Principal of the Year, and Chapman’s Alex Colson was named Spartanburg One District Teacher of the Year.

However, while these achievements certainly deserve celebration, they are not the memories McMillan will treasure the most.

“There certainly are a ton of specific memories that I will treasure forever, but I think at the end of the day, my most favorite thing is when you’re here for a long amount of time, nine years, I’ve seen two full senior classes come through,” McMillan said. “Just watching students grow from when they’re 14-15 years old to 18-19 year old young adults who are ready to go out and tackle the world, that’s probably my best memory.”

McMillan’s deeply personal connections with students, faculty and staff is what he will miss the most when he transitions from a Panther to a Viking.

“I think (I’ll miss) just the day-to-day interaction with the staff and students for sure. We’ve poured a lot of heart and soul into this school,” McMillan said. “I’ll miss the small town atmosphere. Going to a larger school that represents an entire city will be a big change. My style is very relational, so getting down in a place like Spartanburg and getting to know everyone is going to be a huge task.”

McMillan’s personable nature does not go unnoticed. Senior Ellie Mitchell, who has known him since he was an administrator at Campobello-Gramling School, admires McMillan’s talent for connecting with students, as well as his enthusiastic school spirit.

“The first thing I would say I appreciate about Dr. Mac is that he has a personal connection with each of the students, and we’re not just a number to him,” Mitchell said. “The second thing I have to say I appreciate about Dr. Mac is his excellent sense of style, including bow ties and themed pants, (especially) the Chapman-themed pants, or when he wears wigs for spirit days.”

English teacher Holly Hollifield takes her appreciation one step further. 

She is grateful for McMillan’s intentionality in making the school feel like home for both students and faculty.

“He tries to make the community of Chapman High School feel like a family and not a hierarchy,” Hollifield said. “Just for example, when we had the doughnuts and coffee in the rotunda and everybody could go get one, or when we won Palmetto’s Finest, and he literally danced all across the front of the auditorium. You can really tell that he’s trying to create a community rather than just a workplace.”

Even though McMillan will no longer be in the Chapman building, he is still quick to assure that he will still be an active supporter of the school and Spartanburg One as a whole.

“Personally, we’re not leaving,” he said. “We’re in this community and a part of this community. I will continue to be a huge supporter of everything that Chapman and District One has to do.”

As the school year and McMillan’s time as a Panther draws to a close, students and teachers alike wish him well as he prepares to leave for Spartanburg High School. 

“I think he’s an excellent principal, and I can’t wait to see what he does for Spartan High,” said Mitchell.

Hollifield, who was on the interview committee when McMillan first applied to become an administrator, thanks him for delivering on his pledge to unite the students and faculty. “Thank you so much for being hugely supportive of teachers and students,” Hollifield said. “You said that one of your goals is to make the school feel more like a family community and bring people together, and you followed through with your promise.”

Though McMillan’s departure is bittersweet, he is still confident that the school will continue to thrive. His message to students, faculty, and staff is simple:

“Just keep on keeping on. I learned a long time ago that it’s not about the building, it’s not about the physical structure; it’s about the people inside, so I think that this place is going to continue to be great. I’ll be one call away if you ever need anything.”