With an early interest in art, Dawn Gabbitas Abell, MEd, first earned a Bachelor of Arts in art education from Eastern Michigan University in 1969 and embarked on her career as a teacher at the First Grade Learning Improvement Center with Melvindale-Northern Allen Park Public Schools that same year, where she remained until 1979. During this time, she furthered her studies and obtained certification in elementary education at Eastern Michigan University while working in interior design as the owner of La Maison Magnifique from 1975 to 1979. Moving to South Carolina, Ms. Abell became a teacher of art, remedial reading and writing in the Clover School District from 1979 to 1984 and was certified as an educator in the state of South Carolina in 1981.
Ms. Abell went on to join Winthrop University, where she completed a Master of Education in school administration and supervision in 1982 and certification as a reading specialist in 1983. In 1984, she became an EIA instructor for grades 9-12 before serving as a gifted teacher in the Cherokee County School District from 1985 to 1987. Spending a year as a home school coordinator in 1986, she was the district vocational coordinator for special populations with the Aiken County Public School District from 1987 to 1989 and the assistant director for the South Carolina Council on Vocational and Technical Education from 1989 to 1990. This period also saw Ms. Abell achieving certification in secondary administration and supervision and as a vocational center director from the University of South Carolina while working as an adjunct professor.
Throughout the early 1990s, Ms. Abell held a variety of leadership roles, including vocational coordinator for Richland County School District One from 1990 to 1992, curriculum supervisor for the Academy for Career Excellence Beaufort/Jasper from 1992 to 1993, and technical preparatory director at the Gaston County Schools from 1993 to 1994. She also served as an art teacher for the Gaston County Schools from 1993 to 1996. Subsequently working as the administrative assistant to the assistant principal at the Union County Schools from 1996 to 1997, she was the special adviser for vocational education in the Wilson County School District from 1997 to 1998 before becoming assistant principal at Midwood High School from 1998 to 2000. Ms. Abell went on to serve in that same capacity with the Starmount Academy of Excellence from 2000 to 2001 and Sedgefield Middle School from 2001 to 2003.
Certified in elementary education since 1998, Ms. Abell undertook additional coursework at her graduate alma mater, Winthrop University, in 2004 and began work as a substitute teacher for grades K-12 that same year. Serving in a substitute capacity until 2008, she also spent 2006 to 2008 as the computer lab manager for York School District 1 and completed coursework at Converse University in 2006. Ms. Abell concluded her career as an adult education instructor in the Chester County School District from 2008 until her retirement in 2009.
With considerable expertise in change and vocational education, Ms. Abell has been involved with countless vocational committees, councils and organizations throughout her career. She has also authored a number of texts on vocational education for professional journals and developed seminars and conferences for educators and business professionals to help them understand changes in their fields. In 2010, she published the book “An American Tragedy Unfolding: Our Educational System.” Over the course of her career, Ms. Abell was active with the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Association, the National Dropout Prevention Center, the National Business Education Association, the Marketing Educators’ Association, and more.
Looking toward the future, Ms. Abell plans to return to her early passion for art as an independent artist. During her long tenure in education, she frequently drew on her artistic abilities to do things like design t-shirts for events and school departments. Her driving artistic passion, however, is realism, and she enjoys painting, drawing and working with pastels. For her excellence, Ms. Abell has been featured in Who’s Who in American Education and Who’s Who in Governmental Services; named a Marquis Who’s Who Top Professional and a Marquis Who’s Who Industry Leader; and presented with a certificate of appreciation from the South Carolina Commission on Women and the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award.