The Northwestern High School gym was alive with clapping and cheering school district employees Friday morning, celebrating as the beginning of a new school year nears.
More than 2,200 district employees showed their school spirit during the pep rally. They have been preparing for the new school year for several weeks.
The pep rally was a theatrical event. Featured teachers entered the gym on a golf cart, and the Northwestern Purple Regiment band played dramatic music to enhance the atmosphere.
Several teachers were recognized for special awards during the celebration.
Rhonda Hudak, an English teacher at Rawlinson Road Middle School, was announced as district Teacher of the Year. She received $1,500 from the district, $1,000 from the state Department of Education, and a $500 grant for her class from the Rock Hill School District Foundation.
Hudak was also given a new Honda CRV to use for a year from Honda Cars of Rock Hill.
Runners-up for district Teacher of the Year are Andy Majors, a math teacher at Dutchman Creek Middle School, and Samantha Goodman, Saluda Trail Middle School special education teacher.
April Thorton, art teacher at Richmond Drive Elementary School, was named Elementary Beginning Teacher of the Year, while Rock Hill High art teacher Emily Rapposelli was named Secondary Beginning Teacher of the Year.
Getting ready for a new year of learning has been a lot of work for the teachers.
This is the 15th year of teaching for Kim Nordin, who teaches sixth grade at Ebenezer Avenue Elementary. Her preparation has consisted of attending summer professional development, creating an inviting classroom, and designing engaging activities.
Spanish teacher Nan Landsman gets things ready at Northwestern by getting the room in order, hanging any new pictures on the classroom walls, and making photocopies of the lyrics of new Spanish rock songs to use in lessons.
Stephanie Daniels, drama teacher at Rock Hill High School, has been teaching for 20 years.
To prepare, she said, I choose a season of shows, make lesson plans and prepare my room.
Being prepared is important for kids and teachers alike.
Landsman has learned in her 27 years teaching that the best advice for students on their first day is to be prepared and be positive.
Relax and smile, was Daniels advice to students. People like being around positive people.
Be excited to attend the best schools in South Carolina, said Nordin, and be ready to learn and have fun.
The teachers all seemed to anticipate a fun year. Theres a lot to look forward to.
For Nordin, the most exciting prospects are learning along with my students, integrating iPads into the curriculum and teaching my students to be leaders.
Chandler West • 803-329-4033