This has been a good year for Tennille Scheriff, a fourth-grade teacher at the Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts.
The 33-year-old recently married, is nearing completion of a doctorate from Liberty University and learned last week that her school's efforts to integrate art into academic subjects earned it national recognition.
Her good fortune continued Friday when she was named the Beaufort County School District's Teacher of the Year for 2010-11.
"I'm truly humbled just to be standing before all of these amazing educators -- Beaufort County's finest," Scheriff said, her eyes teary after getting hugs from her principal and colleagues.
School administrators, Board of Education members and former teachers of the year gathered at the clubhouse on Callawassie Island for breakfast to present Scheriff with the district honor and the gift that comes with it.
Hilton Head BMW gave her the keys to a black 2011 BMW 328. She'll get to drive the car free for a year.
The gift -- Scheriff's first new car -- couldn't have come at a better time.
"My car right now has the engine light on and has been to the shop three times this month," she said.
Scheriff, who began working for the Beaufort County School District in 2002, started her 13th year of teaching last month. She spent much of her career teaching first grade but began teaching fourth grade last year.
She was selected by her peers as a school-level teacher of the year in April and was named one of five district finalists in August.
An independent committee interviewed the finalists before selecting Scheriff. She now will compete for state and possibly national awards. She also will lead the district's Teacher Forum, an advisory group that provides a teacher voice those making school policy.
Gretchen Keefner, principal of the School for Creative Arts, said Scheriff is simply "the best" -- a role model for students and a team player who brings a positive attitude to school every day.
"Everybody is successful in her room," Keefner said. "Everybody learns in her room."
Scheriff also has a gift for getting students excited about learning, Keefner said. She said there are no discipline problems in Scheriff's classroom, even when she teaches students who have given other teachers trouble.
Perhaps that's a result of Scheriff's military background. She enlisted in Iowa at age 17 and served with the Army Reserves and National Guard for about 10 years.
She said that experience taught her the importance of helping students develop consistent routines and procedures.
"The kids just bring me so much joy," Scheriff said. "And the camaraderie with my colleagues, it's like no other."