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Lexington 1 Teacher of the Year: 'I love learning new things'

What inspired you to choose teaching as a career?

Many factors influenced my decision to become an educator. One of the strongest was probably my mother, an educator, who taught school in our district for 34 years and touched many lives. After retiring, she continued to substitute until she was 72. As a child, I remember watching her tutor a third-grade boy in our home. When he finally understood the concept she patiently taught, they shared a joy I knew I wanted to experience, too.

If you were not an educator, what would you like to do for a living?

I love learning new things, which is why teaching is the perfect profession for me. Yet as I teach new concepts, I often fantasize about that career field, from forensic science to architecture. Imagine designing the likes of the amazing Guggenheim Museum.

What one thing have you borrowed from your favorite teacher that you use in your classroom?

My fifth-grade science teacher shared the power of enthusiasm. I had never seen someone get so excited about the food chain or erosion. Miss Peterson at Lexington Elementary School taught me enthusiasm is contagious, and I use that in my classroom every day.

Describe how you learned you were named Teacher of the Year in your district, and how you celebrated.

All the nominees were asked to bring a current or former student as an escort to the celebration. I was tickled when a current fourth-grade student agreed to share the evening with me.

He met me at the door with a beautiful corsage and held my hand as we waited in the dark theater for the introductions. He leaned over and whispered, "Don't worry if you are not picked to be the District Teacher of the Year, because you will always be MY Teacher of the Year."

At that point in the evening, I already felt like a winner. When the emcee said that the Teacher of the Year was one who loves to share the "AH HA" moments with students, my escort knew it was me. He jumped out of his seat and yelled, "We Won!" That was all the celebrating I needed.

What recognition did you receive for being named District Teacher of the Year?

With this honor, I have received much recognition. I was appointed to the Teacher Forum Leadership Council, an opportunity that provides time for invaluable collaboration with other professionals within the district. I serve on the Schools of the Future Task Force. This diverse group includes local university faculty, major business CEOs, local business chairs and educators. We come together to plan for the needs of our fast-growing and changing student population. I have found viewing education through the eyes of others to be priceless.

What would your students say you are best known for?

My students have dubbed my teaching style the "Goodman Twist." I take the standard and give it an engaging flip - sometimes literally. For example, my students walked into our room one day to find the tables turned on their sides and covered with tattered cardboard, their snacks replaced with stale bread and sheets of newspaper where their warm cozy jackets used to hang. Hooverville had come to Lexington. We were not only learning about it, but we were living it.

How do you see current economic conditions affecting your classroom, and how do you try to counteract that?

My district has done an amazing job of sheltering our schools. Lexington 1's school board prepared for the economic drop and, due to their vision and leadership, we have maintained the quality necessary to teach and to ensure global leaders for tomorrow.

What one item could you never do without in your classroom, and why?

Interactive whiteboards! They have changed the way I teach. With a SMART Board, I am better able to address the diverse learning styles of my students. Gone are the days of the "sage on the stage" teacher dispensing knowledge and offering success only to auditory learners. With this technology, the visual learner and the tactile/kinesthetic student now have an opportunity to shine.

What has been your most memorable classroom moment over the past year?

We make memories every day in our classroom. My students know and feel that we are an extended family. Having the opportunity to work with the same students for three consecutive years truly creates a village of supporters. My students learn to recognize strengths and struggles within themselves and others. The students are amazing as they authentically praise and support each other. These are the daily memories I cherish.

If you are named a finalist for S.C. Teacher of the Year, who will be the first non-relative you call?

I would call John Thomas Hunter Parrish, who graciously escorted me when I was named Lexington 1's District Teacher of the Year!


Age: 48

School: Pleasant Hill Elementary

Subject: Gifted and Talented, third through fifth grades

Years at Pleasant Hill: 4

Years as an educator: 26

Family: Married

Academic credentials: Bachelor's in elementary education, Lander University; master's in divergent learning, Columbia College

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