A Horry County school district teacher was named the 2014 South Carolina Teacher of the Year at a gala Wednesday night.
Jennifer Ainsworth was named the state’s top educator from about 49,000 classroom teachers across the state.
Among the five finalists for the honor was Rock Hill school district teacher Rhonda Hudak, a language arts teacher at Rawlinson Road Middle School.
“Second only to the home, teachers have the greatest impact on a child’s education,” said state superintendent of education Mick Zais in a statement before the gala. “We should all be grateful for their commitment to excellence in the classroom.”
This year’s other state finalists are John “Jed” Dearybury from the Spartanburg County school district, Patrick Kelly from Richland County schools and Vivian “Beth” Tuten from Lexington County schools.
Ainsworth was awarded $25,000 and the use of a new BMW for one year. Hudak and the other three finalists each received $10,000 and the title of “Honor Roll Teacher.”
Hudak joins a list of “Honor Roll Teachers” from Rock Hill, including Northwestern High School chemistry teacher Jeff Venables in 2013 and Oakdale Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Julia Goodman Marshall in 2010.
Two Northwestern High School teachers have been named South Carolina Teacher of the Year in the last five years. Brian Coburn was honored in 2009 and Patti Tate in 2011.