From staff reports
A first-grade teacher who recently earned her doctorate degree was named Thursday, Dec. 8 as the Beaufort County’s 2020-2021 District Teacher of the Year. The selection of Megan DeWeese, Ed.D., who teaches at Okatie Elementary School, was announced during a faculty meeting at the school.
“I was so shocked, so humbled,” DeWeese said. “We have amazing teachers in this district. I feel so blessed and humbled to be chosen to represent our teachers.”
Okatie Elementary Principal Jamie Pinckney said DeWeese is true to her heart as she not only lives and breathes teaching, but deeply loves it.
“She is a perpetual learner; she has completed her doctoral studies over the last year,” Pinckney said. “She’s only been at Okatie Elementary for five years and she’s already accomplished more in her five than I have in 39.”
The four other finalists for 2020-2021 District Teacher of the Year were Julie Markle at Pritchardville Elementary School, Jonathan Miller at Beaufort High School, Michelle Taylor at Hilton Head Island IB Elementary School, and Roderick Williams at Battery Creek High School.
For DeWeese, becoming a teacher has always been her dream.
“Teachers have the grand opportunity to change the future and make a difference in the lives of other people, particularly children,” she wrote in her Teacher of the Year application. “The influence of teachers does not stop at academics, yet it goes beyond the curriculum. Teaching is an elite profession and I believe it is the most important profession in our society.”
DeWeese says teachers are the gateway to students’ futures. “The impact that a teacher has on students has a tremendous effect on the intrinsic motivation that the students will have throughout school and furthermore, throughout life.” She believes that for this reason, teachers should not only ensure that students are successful, but that they also feel successful. “It is imperative for teachers to be nurturers, encouragers, supporters, and to establish strong rapports with each student.”
DeWeese holds a Doctorate of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of South Carolina and a Master of Arts in Teaching Early Childhood Education from Armstrong State University. She holds Gifted and Talented (GT) and Read to Succeed endorsements. She is certified in Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP), helping to make content material more comprehensible to English Language Learners. She is a member of the Palmetto State Teachers Association.
The District Teacher of the Year represents Beaufort County in the South Carolina State Teacher of the Year program. Finalists for the state program will be announced in February.
2020-2021 TEACHERS OF THE YEAR
(LISTED BY SCHOOL)
Battery Creek High Roderick Williams*
Beaufort Elementary Carmalita Lawton
Beaufort High Jonathan Miller*
Beaufort Middle Scott Lopatka
Beaufort/Jasper Academy Sam Carpenter
Bluffton Elementary/ Ashley Whitman
Early Childhood Center
Bluffton High Katlyn McCormick
Bluffton Middle Cathryn “Cat” Floyd
Broad River Elementary Laura Boozer
Coosa Elementary Marjorie Isley
H. E. McCracken Middle Kristin Stevenson
Hilton Head Early Katie Carroll
Hilton Head High Gerson Bonilla Matamoros
Hilton Head International Michelle Taylor*
Hilton Head Middle James Waechter
Hilton Head School for the Jennifer Backlund
Creative Arts/Daufuskie Is.
Joseph S. Shanklin Elementary Abbie Whitaker
Lady’s Island Elementary Clayton Wynn
Lady’s Island Middle Juvonna Chatman-Jenkins
May River High Chelsi Klutch
Michael C. Riley Elementary/ Sherri Westby
Mossy Oaks Elementary Andrea Riley
Okatie Elementary Megan DeWeese*
Port Royal Elementary Felicia Horton
Pritchardville Elementary Julie Markle*
Red Cedar Elementary Stephanie Moldenhauer
Right Choices Frank Palmieri
River Ridge Academy Justine Vaitas
Robert Smalls International Violeta Magnus
St. Helena Elementary/ Shakira Grimes
Early Learning School
Whale Branch Early Sonia Perez-Roberson
Whale Branch Elementary/ Willard Smith
James Davis ECC
Whale Branch Middle Arsenio Toledo
Adult Ed Garner Jones
*District Teacher of the Year Finalists