He’s a human megaphone for all manners of media. She’s the oil that helps keep the school machine moving.
Together, they’re the best their district has to offer.
Last week the Fort Mill School District named Chuck Walker and Wendy Matherly as 2014 district Teacher of the Year and Support Staff Person of the Year, respectively. Both received a cash prize, accommodations at Myrtle Beach and a new car to drive for a year.
Walker, an English and journalism teacher at Nation Ford High School, began teaching more than two decades ago. His career includes stops at both of the district’s high schools, as a college professor and in adult education roles. A list of accolades includes 2014 South Carolina Scholastic Press Association Adviser of the Year and 2002 Fort Mill High School Teacher of the Year.
“I do have a passion for teaching,” Walker said. “I love it. In the past few years I’ve sort of lived by a motto and that motto is, ‘you’ve got to show up to get your blessing.’”
Earlier in his career Walker focused on literature. Now he advises the yearbook production at Nation Ford, along with in-house radio, television and other forms of mass communication. Walker sees similarities in a great novel and a tight newscast.
“Change is constant, particularly with technology, but quality is eternal,” he said.
Walker credits his students not only with keeping him young and educating him daily, but with taking ownership in the various media roles he assigns them. Student producers and editors often are the harshest critics of the media his classes create, Walker said. His hope is to create classes students want to attend, feeling as though they have something to contribute.
“Our philosophy in journalism is everybody has a story, and everybody’s voice is important,” Walker said.
Matherly: Always there to lend a hand
Matherly is a resource assistant at Fort Mill Elementary School. Her position includes anything from working with small groups of students to running copies for classroom teachers.
“I’m just kind of, ‘hey Wendy, can you help me with this?’” she said. “I’m kind of the cog in the wheel that supports the teachers.”
Matherly is in her second year at Fort Mill Elementary after a year at Springfield Elementary School. She took time off when her daughter, now a 10th-grader in the district, was young. Coming back, Matherly wanted to contribute in her role to what first drew her young family to Fort Mill.
“I don’t feel like our kids are just a number or a score on a standardized test,” she said.
Matherly assists in reading, writing and math. She’s working toward a graduate degree in special education and wants to work with special needs students. She enjoys figuring out how students learn best and teaching to their strengths.
“It’s working with the kids who need specialized help,” Matherly said. “They’re only special in that they have different needs. All the kids are special.”
Walker and Matherly won the district honor among 30 employees previously announced as school or support site winners. Peer nominations and votes determine winners. Along with recognition, those employees meet monthly with the district superintendent and other administrators to collaborate on topics impacting schools and facilities.