School district announces 2014-15 Teacher of the Year finalists

Five classroom teachers were named today as finalists for the Beaufort County School District’s 2014-15 Teacher of the Year. The finalists are Michelle Henry, a master teacher at Whale Branch Elementary School; Caroleen Hodge, a third-grade teacher at Port Royal Elementary School; Annette Lee, a special education teacher at Hilton Head Island High School; Sharon McMahon, a seventh-grade math teacher at Bluffton Middle School; and Amy Simmons, a band teacher at Whale Branch Middle School.

Superintendent Jeff Moss announced the five selections before an audience of more than 1,000 teachers at the opening session of Summer Institute 2014, the district’s annual summer professional development conference.

“Great teaching is the No. 1 ingredient in an excellent education, and today we announced five top-notch professionals who epitomize great teaching,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss.  “Our finalists are terrific representatives for all of our district’s teachers.”

Becoming District Teacher of the Year is a three-step process that begins when school-level teachers of the year are selected in April.  Those wishing to compete for District Teacher of the Year submit detailed applications by the end of July.

In the second step, a selection committee consisting of parents, former educators and community leaders from across Beaufort County reviews the applications and rates them using a numerical scoring system.  The five highest-scoring applicants are named as finalists.

In the third step, the finalists are interviewed by a separate review committee again composed of judges from across the county.  Those panelists begin by reviewing a video of the teacher doing a classroom lesson.  The judges then score candidates based on how well they respond to questions about their teaching methods as shown in the video, as well as how they respond to questions about current education issues.  After those interviews, the panel selects the District Teacher of the Year in September, and that person represents Beaufort County in the South Carolina State Teacher of the Year program.

The 2014-15 District Teacher of the Year will be announced on Sept. 19. The current Teacher of the Year is Kristen Karszes, an English Language Arts teacher at Hilton Head Island High School.

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