Posted: Thursday, September 24, 2020

In a surprise visit to her classroom today, GCS Superintendent Dr. Burke Royster presented Summit Drive Elementary third grade teacher Angelica Childes with teaching’s highest honor, naming her the 2020-21 Greenville County Schools Teacher of the Year. 

The surprise visits began this morning with the announcement naming two Emerging Teachers of the Year. They are Julia McKissick, school counselor at Lake Forest Elementary School and Mark Crain, Firefighting Instructor at Enoree Career Center.

Also announced during the morning visits were first runner-up Caitlin Scott, Band Director at Woodmont Middle; second runner-up Matthew Large, Mathematics teacher at Wade Hampton High; and third runner-up Cyndi Waddell, Dance instructor at Stone Academy.

2020-21 Finalists for GCS Teacher of the Year are Chris Beyerle, Gateway to Technology teacher at Dr. Phinnize J. Fisher Middle; Starr Gillespie, 7th Grade Social Studies teacher at Tanglewood Middle; Zoren Rierson, Special Education teacher at Travelers Rest High; Alison Taylor, First Grade teacher at Mitchell Road Elementary; Tamara Uria, English to Speakers of Other Languages teacher at Greenville Middle Academy; and Stephanie White, Fifth Grade teacher at Cherrydale Elementary.

Greenville Journal TOY eBooklet

2020-21 GCS Teacher of the Year

Angelica Childes, Third Grade, Summit Drive Elementary School

Summit Drive Elementary third grade teacher Angelica Childes believes one of the most important issues facing new teachers is the need for mentoring during their first years of teaching. She cites class size, the achievement gap, government funding, and educational policy as major concerns that lead to teacher attrition.

“I have listened to the personal experiences of former coworkers who left the field,” Childes explained. “Navigating the new normal of the unique culture and high demands of the teaching career is a task that requires meaningful support, and I believe the teacher attrition rate can drastically decrease through mentorship.”

With that in mind, Childes dedicates her career to being an innovative mentor for new teachers, encouraging them to stay. After building strong relationships with her mentees, Childes observes their techniques, guides them in self-reflection, and coaches them by providing feedback.  She serves to reinforce and empower the voice of teachers who are standing up for the career and for students.

For two summers, Childes taught English to children in Uganda. This experience taught her the need for strong classroom management and even stronger relationships with her students. She refers to her students as “world changers,” showing them pictures from Uganda during the first week of school. Her goal is to give them a glimpse into the disparity in the world and to teach them gratitude. One year, students collected enough money to provide safe water systems for several families in Uganda.

“From year to year my students change, but the value I put on loving, respecting, and challenging the whole child remains consistent,” she said. “I am responsible for inspiring motivation to pursue the actualization of my students’ far-reaching dreams.”

“From year to year my students change, but the value I put on loving, respecting, and challenging the whole child remains consistent,” she said. “I am responsible for inspiring motivation to pursue the actualization of my students’ far-reaching dreams.”

Angelica Childes

Teacher of the Year Process

The process of selecting the ten finalists began last fall when schools and centers selected their individual Teachers of the Year. School level Teachers of the Year completed a comprehensive application that was reviewed and scored by an initial Screening Committee. The judges then scored the top one-third scores and selected the Top Ten finalists.

How Are the Finalists Chosen?

Each Top Ten candidate for Greenville County Teacher of the Year is judged on the completed application, a one-on-one interview (completed by a ZOOM this year) and a virtual classroom observation.

During the spring interview, candidates were judged on their use of effective communication skills, organization of responses to questions, and substance and relevance of response.  During the virtual observation, candidates recorded a Google Meet with their class and submitted the video to the judges.  The judges scored each observation on the teacher’s knowledge of content, teacher/student interaction, communication skills, instructional delivery, and assessment and feedback.

The members of the Selection Committee are Wade Kolb, Wyche Law Firm and Rotary Club of Greenville; Dr. Betty McConaghy, retired GCS administrator; Shiree Turner Fowler, former Greenville County Schools Teacher of the Year; Andy Waters, Herff Jones of South Carolina; and Dr. Phillip Wilder, Clemson University.

Special Thanks to Our Sponsors

Special awards and prizes are provided for the top Greenville County teacher and other honorees. Sponsors include: Bank of Travelers Rest, BMW Manufacturing Company, Chick-fil-A of Greer, Cowart Awards, Eplee + Associates, Expressions Unlimited, Greenville Federal Credit Union, Greenville Journal, Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa, Herff Jones of South Carolina, Jostens, Michelin North America Inc., Papa John’s Pizza, Rotary Club of Greenville, Sam’s Club, and T-Mobile.

Caitlin Scott
Matthew Large
Cyndi Waddell

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