Beaufort County School District superintendent Jeffrey Moss surprised four classroom teachers Monday at each of their schools with news they had been selected as finalists for the district's 2013-14 Teacher of the Year award.
The finalists are:
- Emalee Baker, a kindergarten teacher at Red Cedar Elementary School
- Vicki Cathcart, a science teacher at Whale Branch Middle School
- Kristen Karszes, an English teacher at Hilton Head Island High School
- Eve Weaver, a second-grade teacher at St. Helena Elementary School
- Tonya Simmons, a career and technology education teacher at Battery Creek High School. Simmons was not at school Monday.
"The secret to a school's success is not really much of a secret," Moss said in a district news release. "It's having a solid corps of bright, capable, dedicated and hard-working classroom teachers. Our five finalists ... are terrific examples of the kinds of top-quality professionals that we want to see in every classroom in Beaufort County."
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The finalists were selected by a committee of parents, former educators and community leaders from among the teachers of the year at each district school.
Those teachers wishing to compete for the district award submitted applications reviewed and scored by the committee. The five highest-scoring applicants were named finalists, according to district spokesman Jim Foster.
The teachers will now be interviewed by a separate committee of judges from across the county. The judges will review video of each teacher performing a classroom lesson and score the finalists' explanations of the teaching methods shown in the video. They also will be scored on their responses to questions about current education issues.
The highest-scoring finalist will become the district's teacher of the year Sept. 20 and represent Beaufort County in the S.C. State Teacher of the Year program.
The current Teacher of the Year is Erin Reichert, a social studies teacher from Bluffton High School.