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On Monday, January 28, CCSD's Office of Teacher Effectiveness surprised the finalists for District Teacher of the Year with a bouquet of flowers. Each finalist had the opportunity to check out the Volvo from Rick Hendrick's Volvo of Charleston that the District Teacher of the Year will receive at CCSD Educator Night with the Charleston Riverdogs on May 10. Congratulations to each of the Teacher of the Year Finalists for this accomplishment!

Special thanks to Rick Hendrick's Volvo of Charleston for their partnership with CCSD in recognizing and rewarding our teacher leaders through the Teacher of the Year process! Follow Nancy Dabit, current CCSD Teacher of the Year, through the Volvo of Charleston website.

Angie Grimes, Morningside Middle School

Angie Grimes with studentsAngie B. Grimes is a Middle School Interventionist from Morningside Middle Middle School ARMS Academy in North Charleston, SC. Angie was awarded an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from Lander University and graduate degrees from The Citadel and Charleston Southern University. Since her early years of playing teacher with her then, four - year - old brother, Angie loved learning and creating. “I would sit with him and try to ‘teach’ him to read a book!”

Angie pursued a teaching career because she felt that it was a part of her identity. Her love for learning and children greatly influenced her to enter the field of education. She later found her personal calling as a reading interventionist.

Regardless of whether they are struggling or reluctant readers, helping her scholars find the “perfect” book was her special talent. Angie believes that being a teacher is a “cycle of evaluating and reevaluating yourself and your effectiveness.” “An educator must be willing to change,” and she does this by maintaining a positive attitude in a supportive environment.
To reach the many scholars beyond her classroom walls, Angie leads the 25 Book Challenge; students are able to track their individual progress through graphic organizers and data bulletin boards. She also conducts a very successful book club, Real Men Read, for the male scholars at Morningside. Angie’s principal states that she has played a vital role in increasing student achievement. For the past three years she has “approached the difficult challenges from a creative standpoint. She came with a plethora of ideas on how to improve the reading scores of not only scholars in her class, but those in the entire school.” Overall, Angie believes that education is a team effort. “Everyone wants the same final outcome: strong schools, strong children, and a strong community. Failure is not an option.”

Kirk Lindgren, Charleston County School of the Arts

Kirk Lindgren with studentsKirk Lindgren, a 12th grade Physics and 9th grade Physical Science teacher at Charleston County School of the Arts in North Charleston, is a graduate of the University of Virginia. Kirk’s passion for education was influenced by his eccentric Physics teacher, Tony Wayne. “I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen on the second day. He had me hooked!” That enthusiasm and passion made him realize what a profound affect a teacher can have on his or her students.

Once Kirk entered his very own classroom, he decided that his greatest contribution and accomplishment as an educator would be to engage his students. “I want to create a passion for studying science, help them develop life skills that will benefit them in and out of school, and encourage them to participate in community service.”

He strongly believes that educators must be well - prepared, positive, and caring towards the students. “The best way to serve as a leader is to model for other teachers what you do best.” To further that example, Kirk started Project Care, a program that “connected his students with programs in the community to help those in need.” With his students, they were able to complete many hours of community service with programs like Crisis Ministries, Pet helpers, Habitat for Humanity, LEARN Horse Rescue, My Sister’s House, and many more in the Lowcountry.

Kirk’s principal recognizes that he makes a difference in the lives of the students at SOA. In addition to coaching wrestling and engineering competitions, “his ECO Club leads the recycling charge at SOA…we say they are saving the planet, one blue bin at a time” A student of Kirk’s compliments his success as a teacher by the way he structures his classroom. “As a student, I am more oriented towards the humanities and I tend to struggle with math and science; however, when I found out that Mr. Lindgren was teaching physics this year, I decided to take the class because he was teaching it. He genuinely cares about his students-- he wants them to understand the material and ultimately succeed.”

Paul Pallagi, Ladson Elementary School

Paul Pallagi with studentsPaul A. Pallagi III, a 4th grade teacher at Ladson Elementary in Ladson is a graduate of Charleston Southern University. Paul attributes his success as an educator to a seventh grade teacher. What was first thought of as a punishment became a mentoring experience that not only created a successful student, but a future Teacher of the Year nominee. Paul believes that teaching is “not simply a profession; it’s a way of life.” In his eyes, educators must live and breathe the vision of their school and surrounding community.

Paul extends his belief in teaching and student achievement by supporting change and teacher evolution. He states that “teaching styles must adapt to new educational techniques and the various learning styles of students,” ensuring meaningful instruction for each student.
Aside from his work as a 4th grade teacher, Paul created a 4th and 5th grade basketball team for the boys at Ladson and was awarded the Farm2School grant, dedicated to enhancing the overall health and wellness of the student body.

A colleague of Paul’s describes him as a “walking example of Vision 2016” who fosters an open communication with parents and supports struggling learners above and beyond the normal duties of an educator. Paul’s principal recognizes his contributions to Ladson Elementary through his willingness to go the extra mile for students. “Mr. Pallagi serves as a dependable and responsible role model that others admire and respect. He has created an image of what teachers are all about …the students and their welfare.”

Lisa Trott, Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary School

Lisa Trott with studentsLisa B. Trott, a 4th grade teacher from Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary School in West Ashley, is a two - time National Board recipient. A graduate of USC and College of Charleston, Lisa discovered teaching after starting her family. “Once I married and had my first child, I realized that my priorities had shifted, so I chose a career that more closely reflected my station in life at that time.” From a Major in Journalism to a Retail Management Degree, she discovered education. Being around children rejuvenated her and she was able to experience life’s moments through the eyes of children.

Lisa believes that “every child can learn and deserves to have the best education possible” She makes it her daily mission to know her content inside and out, stay informed on the lasted pedagogy and instructional tools/methods, and to always bring her “A” game each and every school day. “Outstanding teachers are continually evolving and growing. I am constantly analyzing the needs in my classroom and taking classes or researching new methods to reach my students.”

With an emphasis in Fine Arts, Lisa constructed her 4th grade team’s curricular units that promote strong reading and language arts skills. She was recognized multiple times as the Distinguished Reading Teacher of the Year and the Charleston Animal Society’s award for Humane Educator of the Year.

Her principal recognizes her energetic and enthusiastic approach to her work. “Students in her room are often dancing to a Beatles tune while learning vocabulary words or re - enacting a Civil War Battle to demonstrate a timeline. She is innovative and approaches learning as a challenge that can be mastered.”

Lisa’s message to her fellow colleges in the educational profession and to the community is that “students must be actively engaged in their learning in order to derive meaning…arts are the vehicle for powerful learning!” At the end of each day and year, her goal is for her students to “expect more out of themselves, to challenge themselves, and be committed to being the very best humans they can be!”

Melissa Yarbrough, St. Andrew's School of Math and Science

Melissa Yarbrough with studentsMelissa Doscher Yarborough is a 3rd grade teacher at St. Andrew’s School of Math and Science. She received her Bachelor’s of Science at Clemson University with a Masters Degree from the University of Charleston and Charleston Southern University. Melissa’s love for science and medicine created a path for her to work with Cardiothoracic Surgery Research at MUSC. “My ultimate goal was to get into medical school and practice pediatric medicine but things changed.” She literally “woke up” and decided that she wanted to be a teacher. What she thought might be a huge mistake actually turned out to be the career she was meant to have.

Melissa was recently named a state finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching Math and Science. She attributes her success in education to her undergraduate degree in Biology. “The knowledge I’ve gained is still being incorporated into my daily science lessons, and I’ve had the pleasure of teaching other teachers how to successfully teach hands - on science lessons to their students.”

Melissa believes there are many layers to being a teacher. “Parent, mentor, educator, leader, counselor…we are all of these and more each day. The profession can be one of the most difficult yet most rewarding jobs that anyone could ever have.” She says it is possible for every child to be successful, but it takes hard work and creativity to meet the needs of each student.
Her principal recognizes Melissa as an “accomplished developer of hands-on, cross curriculum lessons” that produces significant results. “Our PASS results show that 97% of the third grade students scored met/exemplary in ELA and 83% in Math.” Her hard work has “proven to meet the needs of all groups of third grade students.” If given an opportunity to become Teacher of the Year, she would like the community to see the importance of supporting public education. “We have wonderful teachers, students, and families and I would do anything I could to let the public see that.”

Congratulations to our 2013 Rookies of the Year!

Early Childhood Rookie of the Year: Colleen Krumm is a Child Development/Preschool Intervention Blend teacher from Sullivan’s Island Elementary in Mt. Pleasant. She received a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education at the College of Charleston. A colleague of Colleen describes her as a teacher who utilizes a variety of instructional skills that engage her students daily. She says of Colleen, “I continue to be amazed at how she seamlessly transitions from skill to skill and how much her students have progressed this year.”

Elementary Rookie of the Year: Lauren Elizabeth Gudger is a 3rd grade teacher from Pinehurst Elementary in North Charleston. Lauren was awarded a Bachelor of Science in Education from The University of Georgia. Her principal states that she is an “invaluable resource to Pinehurst Elementary School and Charleston County School District.” She has been an “exceptional teacher, professional, and advocate for all students.”

Middle School Rookie of the Year: Kristine M. Peterson is an Art teacher at C.E. Williams Middle School for the Creative & Scientific Arts in West Ashley. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Alfred University in New York and a Masters in Arts Education at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania. Her mentor sees Kristine as an exceptional Art teacher that has “built a diverse and positive community within her classroom and her school.” Her mentor says, “Students leave her classroom with a global perspective of humanity and high critical thinking skills. It’s an honor to teach with her.”

High School Rookie of the Year: Luke Hamilton is EMD/Self Contained teacher at West Ashley High in West Ashley. Luke was awarded a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education, with an Emphasis in History, from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He was recently awarded a Lowe’s grant for $5, 000, providing an opportunity to teach gardening and ecology skills to his students. His principal believes that "Luke is an asset to the WAHS faculty and to CCSD!"
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