Top-notch teachers

School district surprises five teachers named as Teacher of the Year finalists.

The Beaufort County School District surprised five classroom teachers recently with the news that they had been selected as finalists for its 2013-14 District Teacher of the Year recognition.

The 2013-14 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 Language Arts teacher at Hilton Head Island High School; Tonya Simmons, a Career and Technology Education teacher at Battery Creek High School; and Eve Weaver, a second-grade teacher at St. Helena Elementary School.

“The secret to a school’s success is not really much of a secret,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss, who made the announcements in person.  “It’s having a solid corps of bright, capable, dedicated and hard-working classroom teachers.  Our five finalists for District Teacher of the Year are terrific examples of the kinds of top-quality professionals that we want to see in every classroom in Beaufort County.”

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 2013-14 District Teacher of the Year will be announced on Sept. 20. The current Teacher of the Year is Erin Reichert, a social studies teacher from Bluffton High School.

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