When Jennifer Wise walks into Hand Middle School each weekday, she said it feels like coming home.
“It is undoubtedly where I belong,” the algebra and geometry teacher said. “I get a surge of excitement when a student tells me about a mathematical anomaly he or she has found, like a hamburger for 99 cents.”
The Richland 1 educator was recently named the district’s Teacher of the Year. She was recognized during the district’s end-of-the-year employee banquet.
Wise’s educational philosophy is built on a foundation of life-long learning and motivation.
“I never have the desire to be that OK math teacher a student had one year,” said Wise, who teaches seventh and eighth grades. “I want to leave a mark. And each day, I build my legacy – a legacy that tells my students someone cares, someone forgives, and math is a blast.”
But it’s also the challenges, she said, that fuel her desire to serve her students.
“I get a wave of pride that literally brings tears to my eyes when a hard fought problem is solved by a determined student,” Wise said. “My daily rewards far outweigh any hardship I could encounter.”
Hand Middle math teacher Jude Barrineau lauded Wise for her enthusiasm and noted her high expectations, innovative classroom environment and willingness to work with students outside the classroom among her strong points.
“She is dedicated to seeing that her students achieve and she models this for university students as a cooperating teacher while mentoring a new teacher at Hand,” Barrineau said.
Wise serves as a district liaison for math teachers. She also is a member of the 6-8 Mathematics Review Board for the S.C. Education Oversight Committee and has served as a Professional Learning Community facilitator since August.
She received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of South Carolina in 2007 and a master’s in secondary mathematics in 2008. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in education in curriculum and instruction from USC.
Wise, who completed a teaching internship at Dreher High School while pursuing her master’s and has spent her seven years in the classroom at Hand, said she was honored to have her name added to a long list of teachers of the year.
“Simply put, I was elated,” she said. “I have loved Richland 1 from the beginning, frequently telling people I would work here, while still an undergraduate at the University of South Carolina. It is truly a privilege to represent such a fine group of educators.”
Wise will now compete for statewide teacher of the year honors.
Jennifer Helmly of Brennen Elementary School was named Richland 1’s Classified Employee of the Year during the recent celebration.
Wise and Helmly each received $500.