Where Are They Now? Teacher and administrator Brandon Baskett finds success by learning from others

In just 11 years, alumnus Brandon Baskett has progressed from student to teacher, to administrator. Baskett graduated from the University of South Carolina Aiken School of Education in 2012 and now leads Lexington County School District One's The College Center, a program that assists first-generation college students in achieving their goals through dual enrollment and the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) framework.

Education was the obvious path for Baskett, who was inspired by his own teachers. Raised in a single-parent household where money was scarce, a teacher took him under his wing, acting as a mentor and even gifting him a graphing calculator for class when he struggled to afford it. He was also challenged and inspired in his favorite subject, English.

He says, "I had every rigorous English teacher you could have at South Aiken High School. They really prepared me to be an English teacher. When I got to USC Aiken, I declared education as my major and never looked back."

Faculty continued to be a source of strength for Baskett while at USC Aiken. He found the small class sizes helpful and appreciated the collaborative environment and opportunity to build relationships with his professors.

After graduation, Baskett began his first teaching job at Mid-Carolina High School in Newberry County, earning the school's Teacher of the Year Award in just his third year. As a full-time teacher, he noticed the impact he was having in the classroom but wondered how those skills would translate to administration.

He says, "When I was at USC Aiken, I didn't think about administration; I just wanted to teach and use my skills to help students. But I quickly became intrigued by the administration and how I could be impactful in that capacity as well."

At the age of 26, Baskett was hired to be an assistant principal at Newberry High School. While it was an exciting time for him professionally, it was difficult personally due to the unexpected loss of his mother. "I was at the pinnacle of my career but in a personal pit," he says. "I was 26 years old and trying to navigate becoming an assistant principal. But my mom had faith in me, and it helped knowing that she saw me get the job before she passed."

One year later, Baskett accepted an assistant principal role at Lexington High School. As the only administrator in the school under the age of 40, he wanted to learn from his colleagues. "I grow by learning from others," he says. "I made them aware that I was receptive to learning from them, and I soaked up a lot from that admin team."

In 2020, Baskett received an opportunity to become founding director for The College Center. In this role, he coordinated dual enrollment programs in collaboration with Lexington County School District One's five high schools, career center and online learning academy. Now, he focuses on leading the program designed for first-generation college students, through which they work to earn a high school diploma and associate of arts degree in four years of high school.

Under Baskett's direction, the application-based program has grown from just 17 students in its first year to more than 150 students in year four, the current academic year.

Baskett has met much professional success thus far in his short career. He says that USC Aiken, with its high academic standards and unwavering support from faculty and staff, helped pave the way. "At USC Aiken there is a culture and standards that are ingrained," he says. "The faculty all had our bests interests at heart and were willing to be a listening ear. That was a strength then and continues to be a strength today."