For a moment or two Thursday Pam Blumetto sat stunned. Seconds before, she had been named Georgetown County District Teacher of the Year.
But after a hug from her principal, Blumetto, a teacher at Rosemary Middle School, walked to the podium.
"I have the best faculty in the world that I work with," she said to the crowd of about 100. "If it wasn't for them I would not be where I am."
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She went on to gush about her job.
"Golly, I love my kids I work with," she said. "I wouldn't rather be any place else than where I am. I never want to leave, never want to retire."
She joked the district would have to cart her off.
Blumetto, a 25-year teaching veteran, was selected out of five finalists Thursday for the district honor. She will go on to compete for state Teacher of the Year.
The other finalists for district teacher of the year were Amy Norton, fifth-grade teacher at McDonald Elementary School; Sonya Marsh, guidance counselor at Pleasant Hill Elementary School; and Summer Altman, special education teacher at Waccamaw Middle School and Billie Wharton, seventh grade Gifted and Talented Teacher at Georgetown Middle School.
Blumetto, 57, teaches eighth-grade English, language arts and honors gifted and talented ELA at Rosemary Middle School.
Blumetto said she became an educator because she wanted to have a positive impact on children and help them to achieve their goals in life.
"I have a motto in my class which I recite frequently, 'You do not have the right to fail - failing is not an option!' I teach with excitement, I involve all my students, and I give 'parent homework' because I know that parent involvement and communication is critical to student success."
Her favorite teaching moment is each year when she sees her eighth-grade students walk across the stage during the promotion ceremony with huge smiles across their faces to receive their promotion certificates.
"As they head through the door into their future, I am pleased to know that I have been a part of this journey with them," she said.
Blumetto has been recognized before for her dedication to teaching. She was a teacher of the year for Rosemary Middle School a few years ago. She also once was named a teacher of the year for Kingstree High School in Williamsburg County.
Blumetto said she even uses her own life to as inspiration for lesson plans.
About 2006, she was teaching at Georgetown Middle School, when her daughter was stationed overseas with the Air Force. Blumetto used the situation as a way to teach her student letter writing. Twenty-four of Blumetto's students served as pen pals to Air Force men and women, including two lieutenant colonels, according to the school district's website.
The students also sent Christmas cards and a Certificate of Adoption to the 96th EBS Squadron, according to the school's website.
Rosemary Middle School Principal Michael Caviris had high praise for Blumetto.
"She is like family to me, not just a teacher," he said. "I've learned more from her than she has ever learned from me."
Caviris said when he thinks of a new initiative he runs it by Blumetto first because she is "in the trenches" and has good ideas and feedback.
Blumetto had an inside joke going with Caviris.
"I told him if I didn't get I wasn't coming to school [Friday]," she said. "I guess I have to go in."
Blumetto said she was happy to bring the honor to the school, and to make her principal proud.
Blumetto will receive a Dell laptop, $800 from the school district, an undisclosed amount of prize money from Santee Cooper. All of the finalists receive $200 and the individual school teacher of the year winners receive $100.
The teachers of the year for each school are: Paula Gunter, Andrews Elementary School; Debra Barney, Andrews High School; Lou Gore, Brown's Ferry Elementary School; Rita A. Hutchinson, Carvers Bay High School; Faye L. Johnson, Carvers Bay Middle School; Urica Brown, Georgetown High School; Terry Dambman, Howard Adult Education Center; Belinda Ford, Kensington Elementary School; Rena Giles-Rice, Maryville Elementary School; Barbara Sessions-Ford, Plantersville Elementary School; Karen Gamble, Sampit Elementary School; Gail Thompson, Waccamaw Elementary School; Sharon Bray, Waccamaw High School and Beth Goude, Waccamaw Intermediate School.