Joey Trail didn’t win this year’s state Teacher of the Year award, but he still brought pride to Horry County.
The English teacher won the hearts of Forestbrook Middle School administration in 2012. Then the hearts of Horry County Schools officials in 2015.
We have a lot to be proud of in Horry County.
S.C. Sen. Luke Rankin about Joey Trail
Trail was one of five finalists for the 2017 S.C. Teacher of the Year award announced Wednesday night, but lost the award to Jennifer Wise, math teacher from Richland District 1.
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“He is a winner in our hearts every day,” said Forestbrook principal April Scott. “What he does for those kids – it’s just amazing.”
Trail has been a teacher for four years. He won 2015-16 Horry County Teacher of the Year award last April, and as such qualified for the statewide award. As a finalist he’ll take home $10,000, which he said he’ll use on a trip for his mom.
Trail was selected as one of five finalists from 82 district-based Teachers of the Year, and he’s the sixth Horry County teacher to ever make it into the final five. Jennifer Ainsworth, special education teacher at Socastee High, scored the state title in 2014.
“It just goes to show that Horry County has a dedicated group of teachers, and people outside of the district know that too,” said Rick Maxey, Horry County Superintendent.
82 Teachers of the Year in South Carolina
Trail’s family didn’t have running water or guaranteed electricity in their southwestern Virginia home, which was plagued with a history of addiction. Trail earned a bachelor of arts degree in middle levels education at Coastal Carolina University in July 2013 after many years of performing on cruise ships. His mother had only an eighth grade education until earning her GED at age 50.
When Trail was in first grade, his father – an abusive alcoholic – shot himself. His father survived, but Trail’s childhood was filled with continuous trauma and constant chaos. After high school, Trail earned a full scholarship to Virginia Wesleyan College in 1995 but had to drop out after his freshman year because he could not afford to even wash his clothes - let alone purchase textbooks.
That never stopped Trail from success. He went back to school and considered earning a degree in accounting or business, but finally settled on what he thought was his true calling: teaching.
“This is my passion,” he said. “I knew I was going to be OK, and I’ve found what I love.”