Correction: A previous version of this article contained an incomplete list of the district’s 34 school-level teachers of the year. The article has been updated with the full list.
Michelle Gordon knew she was a finalist to be the Beaufort County School District’s teacher of the year, but she didn’t expect to actually win.
She stayed seated as superintendent Frank Rodriguez said her name. She clutched the flowers she’d gotten earlier as her table jumped to their feet to applaud.
She got up. She hugged her husband. And she cried.
“My students think I’m funny and sometimes a little corny,” she wrote in her application for district teacher of the year, “but it captures their attention, and if I have their attention, then the door is open for the opportunity to learn. Goal accomplished!”
It’s a goal that her principal, Denise Donica, appreciates.
“She’s amazing,” Donica said. “She’s so passionate about what she does, and everybody in our building loves her.”
Gordon was named Bluffton High’s Teacher of the Year in April, and applied for district recognition in July. She was named a finalist alongside Vicki Shockley of Lady’s Island Middle School, Keisha Miller of Joseph Shanklin Elementary School, Jill Exley of M.C. Riley Elementary School and Denise Bell of Hilton Head Island Elementary School.
Now, she’ll represent the district at the state level. The South Carolina Teacher of the Year finalists will be named in February.
By the time Gordon gave a speech to the crowd of board of education members, principals and the 33 other teachers of the year for district schools, she was ready to be funny — and a little corny — again.
The award was humbling and surprising, she said.
“Even standing here, I think of a joke,” Gordon said. “What do you call a deer with no eyes?”
She leaned into the microphone.
“I have no eye deer. Get it? That’s how I feel that right now. I had no eye deer!”
2019-20 Teachers of the Year listed by school:
|Battery Creek High||Beth Ann Melton|
|Beaufort Elementary||Christene Johnson-Holmes|
|Beaufort High||Wendy Lacombe|
|Beaufort Middle||Rhonda McCauley|
|Beaufort/Jasper Academy for Career Excellence||Raquel Bryan|
|Bluffton Elementary||Rachel Gauvreau|
|Bluffton High||Michelle Gordon**|
|Bluffton Middle||Dr. Donna Floyd|
|Broad River Elementary||Arriel Young|
|Coosa Elementary||Cynthia Jeffrey|
|H. E. McCracken Middle||Emily Rietveld|
|Hilton Head ECC||Kimberly Bambeck|
|Hilton Head High||Josh Wall|
|Hilton Head Elem.||Denise Bell**|
|Hilton Head Middle||DeAnna Campbell- Holmes|
|Hilton Head School for the Creative Arts||Lyn Raichle|
|Joseph S. Shanklin Elementary||Keisha Miller **|
|Lady’s Island Elementary||Kwame Thornton|
|Lady’s Island Middle||Vicki Shockley**|
|May River High||Julie Collins|
|Michael C. Riley Elementary||Jill Exley**|
|Mossy Oaks Elementary||Amy Squires|
|Okatie Elementary||Amanda Hogshead|
|Port Royal Elementary||Corey Hollis|
|Pritchardville Elementary||Deree Ward|
|Red Cedar Elementary||Leanne Black|
|Right Choices||Nancy Wolff|
|River Ridge Academy||Kim Fields|
|Robert Smalls International Academy||Ashley Holland|
|St. Helena Elementary||Sharonda Coaxum|
|Whale Branch Early College High||Freda McCanick|
|Whale Branch Elementary||Gerald Greene|
|Whale Branch Middle||Karen Tooman|
|Adult Ed||Jannie Mae Williams|
**District Teacher of the Year Finalists