Okatie Elementary teacher named 2020-2021 District Teacher of the Year

in Education by

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 

Career Excellence 

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

Childhood Ctr. 

Hilton Head High Gerson Bonilla Matamoros

Hilton Head International Michelle Taylor*

B. Elem. 

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

ECC 

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

Academy 

St. Helena Elementary/ Shakira Grimes

Early Learning School 

Whale Branch Early Sonia Perez-Roberson

College High 

Whale Branch Elementary/ Willard Smith

James Davis ECC 

Whale Branch Middle Arsenio Toledo

Adult Ed Garner Jones

*District Teacher of the Year Finalists