Columbia, SC – Darleen S. Sutton, a first grade teacher at Pickens Elementary School in the School District of Pickens County, has been named the South Carolina Teacher of the Year for 2013-14.
State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais said, “After parents, the most important person in a child’s education is the man or woman at the front of the classroom. Teachers change lives by putting the interests of their students first and lead classrooms where a personalized and customized education produces high levels of student learning. On behalf of her students, parents, and colleagues at Pickens Elementary School, we congratulate and thank Darlene for her excellence in the classroom.”
The five finalists, announced March 4, 2013 and listed alphabetically by school district, were:
- Lisa O. McCrea-Raiford, an elementary grades teacher at the Center of Innovative Learning at Pinecrest, Aiken County Public School District
- Darleen S. Sutton, a first grade teacher at Pickens Elementary School, School District of Pickens County
- Paul D. Johnson, a biology teacher at Saluda High School, Saluda County Schools
- Trevor T. Ivey, a science teacher at Alice Drive Middle School, Sumter School District
- Jeffrey M. Venables, a chemistry teacher at Northwestern High School, Rock Hill Schools (York County District Three)
The five finalists were chosen from nominees representing 81 local school districts, the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Palmetto Unified School district, and the South Carolina Public Charter School District. The five finalists traveled to Columbia for personal interviews with a seven-member state selection committee.
All five finalists were chosen by a panel of educators and private citizens with no connections to the South Carolina Department of Education. The names of the teachers and their schools were concealed from the judges during the selection process.
During the 2013-14 school year, the Teacher of the Year will participate in a one-year residency program at the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement (CERRA) and will serve as a statewide ambassador for the profession.
Sutton will also receive a $25,000 cash award and a BMW to use for a year. The four remaining finalists (known as Honor Roll teachers) will each receive $10,000, and the district teachers of the year will receive $1,000 each.
This year marks the 48th year of the South Carolina Teacher of the Year Program, which has increased in both 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.
The National Teacher of the Year program, which began in 1952, is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and is sponsored by the ING Foundation.
Sutton succeeds Amy McAllister-Skinner, an English teacher at Johnsonville High School in Florence District 5, who served as the 2012-13 South Carolina Teacher of the Year.
Also Wednesday, Dr. Zais presented Robert Bollier, a high school agriculture teacher at Cheraw High School in Chesterfield County, with the Charles S. Dickerson Community Service Award. The award cited Bollier’s work to organize students to clean and landscape a neighborhood park, to create a recycling program at the high school, and to develop a produce stand with student-grown fruits and vegetables. The award – named after the former Midlands civic leader – comes with a $500 award to Bollier and a $500 donation to his favorite charity, both provided by Bojangles’.