Patti Tate, a Northwestern High English teacher, is Rock Hill schools' Teacher of the Year.
Tate, in her 25th year of teaching, got the news Thursday evening during the district's annual banquet honoring outstanding educators. Tate won $1,500, temporary use of a new car and a $500 grant to spend on classroom-related expenses.
"I'm very humbled because this is not something everyone experiences," Tate said of her honor. "I'm humbled and proud.
"Putting students first is what I do."
Lynn Bogan, a Rock Hill High math teacher, and Bud Cope, a Dutchman Creek Middle social studies teacher, were the top finalists and named Honor Roll Teachers.
They each got $250.
Angela Clark, a Saluda Trail Middle art teacher, is the district's Beginning Teacher of the Year.
She won $100 and a plaque.
Every year, each school chooses a top teacher to compete for the district title. All must explain their teaching philosophy, show proof of professional development and write an essay about why they became teachers.
The top scorers are selected for interviews, from which judges select a winner.
"They're looking at personality and how that person projects himself or herself," Rock Hill schools spokeswoman Elaine Baker said.
"The personality part is a big point."
York County's other school districts have named teachers of the year:
Fort Mill: Lauren Lochel, a first-grade teacher at Sugar Creek Elementary, has been a Fort Mill educator for six years.
She won $1,500, a trip to Springmaid Beach and a new car to drive for a year.
Clover: Kristin Dover, a first-grade teacher at Larne Elementary, is in her fifth year of teaching.
York: Heather Montgomery, a second-grade teacher at Hickory Grove/Sharon Elementary, has taught special needs students as well as second, fourth and sixth grades. She won a cash award, a laptop, a gold signet ring and a digital camera.
The winners are in the running to be South Carolina's Teacher of the Year.
If Tate is chosen as a state finalist, it would be the third straight year that a Rock Hill teacher made it that far.
Julia Goodman Marshall, a fifth-grade Oakdale Elementary teacher, was one of five state finalists last year.
The year before, Bryan Coburn, a Northwestern High engineering teacher, won the state competition.
Herald photographer Melissa Cherry contributed.