COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – Five teachers, including two from the Midlands, were named Monday as finalists in South Carolina's State Teacher of the Year Program.
State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais said the five teachers were chosen from nominees representing 82 local school districts, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Palmetto Unified School District, the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind and the South Carolina Public Charter School District. They will travel to Columbia next month for personal interviews with a seven-member state Selection Committee. All are vying to represent more than 50,000 South Carolina teachers in the National Teacher of the Year Program.
D. Craig Andrysczyk, a fifth-grade mathematics and science teacher at Oak Pointe Elementary School in Lexington/Richland School District 5 and Jeffrey C. Eargle, a U.S. history teacher at Mid-Carolina High School in Newberry County were both named as two of the five finalists.
Andrysczyk, who is referred to as "Math Daddy" is a 20-year veteran who teaches from the back of the room so that he can see who is struggling and who is ready to move forward. A teacher cadet in high school, Andrysczyk understands that academic success is important but also knows the value of fitting into the community. A mentor, Andrysczyk says that being a great teacher involves more than teaching great lessons. He frequently goes out for recess with his students, but never stands and watches them play. He gets in the game and makes sure everyone who wants to participate has a chance. Andrysczyk obtained his undergraduate degree from Columbia International University and his master's degree from the American College of Education.
Students in Eargle's classes are involved in the learning process and draw their own conclusions as he teaches. They create multilayered analytic time lines, engage in discussion via online message boards, role-play politicians in historical stimulations and produce original documentaries. They feel comfortable taking risks with their thoughts because they know their opinions and beliefs will not be disparaged or discounted. Eargle's life experiences include stints in the Peace Corps and at the South Carolina Department of Social Services. National Board certified, he earned both a bachelor and master's degree from the University of South Carolina. He has been teaching for eight years.
The other finalists include: Beth R. Hinson, a biology teacher at Dillon High School in Dillon School District 2; Annitra Jean Allman, an eighth-grade mathematics teacher at Johnakin Middle School in Marion School District 1; and Patti J. Tate, an English teacher at Northwestern High School in Rock Hill School District 3.
The finalists were chosen by a panel of educators and private citizens with no connection to the agency. The names of the teachers and the schools they represent were concealed from the judges during the selection process.
"I congratulate these teachers," said State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais. "The work that they do in the classroom, their leadership among their peers and their efforts in the community honor their profession and reflect a commitment to improving the lives of our young people."
The announcement of South Carolina's 2011-12 Teacher of the Year will be made at the corporate-sponsored Teacher of the Year celebration April 27 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 and serve as a statewide ambassador for the profession.
South Carolina's new Teacher of the Year also receives a $25,000 cash award. The four remaining finalists, or Honor Roll teachers, will receive $10,000 each, and all district teachers of the year will receive $1,000 each.
This year marks the 46th year of the South Carolina Teacher of the Year Program, which has grown tremendously in participation and prestige. The awards program is a nationally recognized event that honors the State Teacher of the Year, Honor Roll teachers and district teachers of the year.
Zais said his agency would assist the new Teacher of the Year in preparing his or her application for the National Teacher of the Year program next fall. Started in 1952, that program is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers and is sponsored by the ING Foundation.
The 2011-12 State Teacher of the Year will succeed Kelly H. Nalley, a Spanish teacher at Fork Shoals School in Greenville.
The new Teacher of the Year will work with CERRA and the South Carolina Teacher Forum, whose members are district teachers of the year. The residency will include numerous speaking engagements around the state before civic and professional groups interested in education. The teacher also will conduct workshops for other classroom professionals, discuss public education issues with members of the General Assembly and State Board of Education, and work closely with the Teacher Cadet Program that encourages academically able students with exemplary interpersonal and leadership skills to consider teaching as a career.
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