Jackson School fourth grade teacher Amanda Harris was named 2015 Kershaw County School District Teacher of the Year at a gala Monday while North Central Middle English teacher Jodie Kahler was named first alternate.
Also honored during the evening’s celebration was Jackson School fourth grade teacher Margaret Gaskins who received the Outstanding First Year Teacher award. Wateree Elementary Principal Gail Stehle also was recognized as the district’s Principal of the Year.
All 20 Kershaw County schools selected teachers of the year earlier this school year. Harris and Kahler were two of six honor roll teachers selected as finalists for the district award. Other honor roll teachers were: Michelle Clark, Blaney Elementary; Mary Crayne, Camden Elementary; Casey Faulkenberry, Camden High; and Angela McCall, Doby’s Mill Elementary.
Harris taught at Midway Elementary School before joining the teaching staff at Jackson. During the 2013-14 school year, she was named the Reading Teacher of the Year by the Kershaw County Reading Council and was also first runner up in the district’s Outstanding First Year Teacher Award during the 2011-12 school year.
“Teaching is not only my spiritual gift, it is my mission in life. I believe the only way to change the world is through education and love,” said Harris. “I want to change the world. It is that simple. One individual at a time.”
Jackson Principal Matia Goodwin said when you enter Harris’s classroom, “you immediately feel a sense of community and collaboration. From the beginning of the year, Mrs. Harris strives to create a positive environment, and she encourages her students to be innovative and creative thinkers.”
This is the second time in nine years that North Central Middle has selected Kahler as its teacher of the year. After college, she worked in her family’s jewelry business but felt a calling to do more with her skills and to give back to her community. “My main goal as an educator is to teach my students that adversity can actually make you stronger,” Kahler said. “All too often, they are ready to accept defeat in the classroom, in athletics and in their personal lives. I want them to learn that success can come with determination and goals.”
Serving as Wateree Elementary’s top administrator since 2009, Stehle was elected as Principal of the Year by her peers. Under her leadership, Wateree has received a Palmetto Gold Award, three Palmetto Silver Awards, three Red Carpet School Awards and a PBIS Exemplar Award.
Gaskins is the seventh KCSD educator to receive the district’s award to honor first year teachers. A fourth grade teacher at Jackson School, she is a member of this year’s induction class. The judges were very impressed with Gaskins and said all of her “students were on task and worked well together in groups. She is very innovative.”
Other first year teachers who were named as honor roll teachers for the Outstanding First Year Teacher recognition include Sarah Gardner, Doby’s Mill Elementary; Casey Stevens, Lugoff-Elgin High; and Gladys Thompson, Wateree Elementary.