Local woman to compete for state Teacher of the Year

A Richland 1 instructor is among five finalists to compete for state Teacher of the Year, the state Department of Education announced today.

Dywanna Smith, a seventh-grade English/language arts teacher atHand Middle School is among the finalists. Other finalists are Amanda McKee, a ninth-and tenth-grade algebra and geometry teacher in Florence District 5; Derenda Marshall, a second- through fifth-grade elementary science teacher at McDonald Elementary School in Georgetown County; Deborah Moore, a first-grade teacher at Gallman Elementary School in Newberry County; and Bryan Coburn, a pre-engineering, computer programming and business teacher at Northwestern High School in York School District 3. The finalists were chosen by a panel of educators and residents with no connection to the agency. The names of the teachers and the schools they represent were concealed from the judges during theselection process.

The announcement of South Carolina’s 2009-10 Teacher of the Year willbe made at the Teacher of the Year celebration May 1 in Columbia. During the next school year, that teacher will participate in a one-year residency program at the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement (CERRA) and serve as a statewide ambassador for the profession, according to the education department.

The Teacher of the Year also receives a $25,000 award, a Dell laptop computer, a set of Michelin tires and a BMW X5 48i to use for a year.

He or she will also participate in Leadership South Carolina, attend Notre Dame’s three-day Excellence in Teaching Symposium and receive a SMART board.

The four remaining finalists, or Honor Roll teachers, will receive$10,000 each and a set of Michelin tires. District teachers of the yearreceive $1,000 each.

The 2009-10 State Teacher of the Year will succeed Jenna Hall, ateacher at Calhoun Academy for the Arts in Anderson School District 5.

Having taught for seven years, Hand's Smith is considered an effective communicator who can deal with the intricacies of student learning, balance critical and creative experiences, and research instructional methods that canimprove student performance. She believes that literature cannot be simply read, but must be experienced, so her classroom provides an atmosphere conducive for learning while promoting dynamic discussions, her biography says.

She is active in the community, serving as a “touch therapy” volunteer for babies who have been abandoned or suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome. A daughter of educators, Smith earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from the University of South Carolina. She is National Board certified.

-- From Staff Reports