SUMMERVILLE -- Dorchester District 2's Joe Pye has been named Superintendent of the Year by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators.

The association, made up of representatives from all of the state's school districts, gathers nominations from individuals in the various districts, said Hannah Hopkins, director of development. Then, panels of educators and business leaders select and interview finalists.

Pye, who has worked for Dorchester District 2 for 38 years, said a panel asked him what gets him fired up to do a good job. "I answered with one word," he said. "Passion."

He thinks district employees see that passion for students and the district, he said, and that's why they respect him.

"I would do anything for this district," he said. "I'm not going anywhere."

According to Thursday's news release from the association, Pye has dedicated his life to education. Prior to his current role as superintendent, he served as district personnel director and principal of Flowertown Elementary School. Under his leadership, three District 2 schools have been named Carolina First Palmetto's Finest, and the district's Annual School Report Card rating has improved overall to "Good."

Pye's colleagues praised him for his integrity and leadership skills that have allowed District 2 to excel, despite the challenges of funding issues that face many of South Carolina's school districts, the release said.

Molly Spearman, the association's executive director, said, "Joe Pye is a proven leader who is dedicated to ensuring that students receive the finest education possible. We are honored to have him represent our fine cadre of school leaders in the Palmetto State."

Pye said he's grateful for the honor and appreciates all of the district employees who helped him land it. District 2 employees have worked hard to help the district compensate for state budget cuts over the past few years, he said.

Pye hopes that as the district's budget improves, he can pay them back for all of the losses they've suffered. "They were here for me when I needed them," he said. "We're still united, in this community, around the school system."