Horry County Schools to tap its next Teacher of the Year

vgrooms@thesunnews.comApril 26, 2014 

  • Horry County Schools Teacher of the Year finalists


    School | Conway High School, Conway

    Major subject area | English, grades nine through 12

    Years of experience | seven, five at Conway High

    Education | bachelor’s degree in secondary English education, Bowling Green State University; master’s in educational leadership, Coastal Carolina University; National Board certified

    What is your goal when you walk into your classroom every day and some key ways you accomplish it? | My goal is to make sure that my students walk into an environment where they feel comfortable enough to take charge of their own learning. I try to make this happen by equipping them with the critical thinking skills that will be required of them when they graduate and by giving them some autonomy in how they learn the material. I have a goal to teach my students English, but I also want them to reach that goal by thinking critically, asking questions, creating projects and even having fun! We laugh together, create together, read together, write together and, ultimately, learn together. We reach our goals through collaboration. My students care about each other and know that I care about them immensely. At the end of the day, I know I’ve cared for my students well when I get a smile, a tweet, a hug, a note – some sort of clue that life was good today for that student in Room C111.


    School | St. James High School, Murrells Inlet

    Major subject area | biology, grades nine and 10; Teacher Cadets/Education 101, grade 12

    Years of experience | 35, 11 at St. James High

    Education | bachelor of science and education-biology education, Presbyterian College; master of education-secondary science, University of South Carolina

    What is your goal when you walk into your classroom every day and some key ways you accomplish it? | I have had one main goal: I want them to know that no matter what level of success they have in my classroom, I am always there to help, support and care for them. We strive to become a family in our classroom. The most important aspect I feel is to build relationships with each other. I let students know they can email me with any questions or concerns, come to tutoring anytime before or after school, and I am willing to listen to them and not judge. There is a sign outside our classroom door that sets the expectations of our classroom, which states: SJH SHARK FAMILY – be ready to learn, say please and thank you, dream big, be respectful, do your best, being early is ON TIME, take risks and make mistakes, follow directions, and WORK HARD and go home tired! I hope these expectations allow students to realize that we grow through making mistakes, hard work is not going to hurt you in the long run, and there is someone who believes in them all day long.


    School | North Myrtle Beach High School, North Myrtle Beach

    Major subject area | visual art/digital photography/graphic design and yearbook journalism, grades nine through 12

    Years of experience | 17, six at North Myrtle Beach High

    Education | bachelor of science in art education, bachelor of arts in general art, Delaware State University; completing master’s degree in teaching and learning, with a specialization in instructional technology, Coastal Carolina University; National Board certified

    What is your goal when you walk into your classroom every day and some key ways you accomplish it? | My desire is to engage all students with an authentic learning experience that will rigorously teach content, how to use media arts as a voice to express themselves and how to give back to their community – to visualize, care about and positively impact the exterior world which lies beyond self. For our classes to be productive, students must see that learning, in all of their classes and the exterior world, is important and has the capacity to prodigiously alter their lives. Educators and students alike must have high expectations for themselves; mediocrity is not in our vocabulary. Furthermore, learning is not an exclusive activity for young people; I learn every day from them. ... I engage my students, each day, on a personal level as well as an academic level. When relationships are bridged, they comprehend that their teacher cares about them, their lives and their success. ... I also encourage my students to get actively involved in activities in and for the local community. When students enjoy and value learning, it becomes a lifelong quest.


    School | Academy for Technology and Academics, Conway

    Major subject area | mathematics, grades nine through 12

    Years of experience | 20, three at ATA

    Education | bachelor of science in mathematics/education, Wingate College; master’s in education-technology, Lesley University; National Board certified

    What is your goal when you walk into your classroom every day and some key ways you accomplish it? | My goal each day is to treat my students as individuals, believe in them and embrace each student’s uniqueness. If students understand that I care, respect them and treat them fairly, then they will do their best, and learning takes place. Students accomplish their goals because they set high expectations for themselves. They inspire me every day to be a better teacher. As an educator, my purpose is to ensure that I make the world a better place by empowering teenagers through the math content I teach so that they can become productive citizens.


    School | Forestbrook Middle School, Myrtle Beach

    Major subject area | mathematics, grade six

    Years of experience | four, all at Forestbrook Middle

    Education | bachelor of arts in elementary education, Coastal Carolina University

    What is your goal when you walk into your classroom every day and some key ways you accomplish it? | One goal I always have is to instill in my students a passion for learning and the need for them to set attainable goals for themselves. I never allow my students to settle for less than their personal best. No matter what, I accept them and all their hard work, and encourage them to be better than they were the day before. I want them to understand that it is not about me being their teacher and me giving them strategies. It is about them figuring out the best way they can meet their goals and how I can facilitate these achievements. ... I set high expectations for my students. There is never a time when I allow them to simply choose failure. ... More than anything, I allow them to see the love for learning and high expectations I have for myself. ... At the end of each school day, I reflect on my lessons to make them better. I reflect on the students’ work to assess what they truly understood, need remediation on and how well they are progressing throughout any given unit.

Socastee High School’s Jennifer Ainsworth made history last week when she gave Horry County Schools its first S.C. Teacher of the Year win, and now the district is preparing to select her successor.

Five finalists are vying for this year’s title of HCS Teacher of the Year, which will be announced at the district’s annual banquet Tuesday night at the Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort and Spa at Grande Dunes. They are: Beth Cox, a biology teacher at St. James High School; Holly Barnes, an English teacher at Conway High School; Kayla Maxwell, a math teacher at Forestbrook Middle School; Lesley Etherson, an art teacher at North Myrtle Beach High School; and Pam Jackson, a math teacher at the Academy for Technology and Academics.

Faculty members at each school selected their Teacher of the Year. Those winners applied to become one of 10 semi-finalists, who were selected in January. An interview process in February narrowed the field to five finalists, who were observed in their classrooms by a selection committee.

The winner will be in contention for the next state award. All school district Teachers of the Year were honored at this year’s state gala, each receiving $1,000, and will be honored by the S.C. General Assembly.

Contact VICKI GROOMS at 443-2401 or follow her on Twitter @TSN_VickiGrooms.

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