What happens when you place more than 2,000 Rock Hill school district employees together in a high school gymnasium? A lot of matching outfits, noise and enthusiasm about heading back to school.
The district hosted its annual celebration Friday morning at South Pointe High School. The event included the introduction of the district’s Teacher of the Year: Jeannie Durham, an eighth-grade science teacher at Rawlinson Road Middle School.
As Teacher of the Year, Durham was awarded several cash prizes. She will get the use of a new car for one year while serving as co-chair of the Rock Hill Teacher Forum. Durham also is in the running for South Carolina Teacher of the Year.
“What an unexpected honor,” Durham said after the celebration, as dozens of her colleagues lined up to hug and congratulate her.
Durham is the second district Teacher of the Year in a row from Rawlinson Road. Seventh-grade language arts teacher Rhonda Hudak won last year and was named one of five finalists for the state honor.
“Jeannie is a fabulous teacher,” Hudak said of Durham. “She is a cheerleader for the children.”
Rock Hill school board chairman Jim Vining welcomed new and returning teachers and thanked them for their service to the community. He joked with returning teachers about all the programs and initiatives they’ve endured, yet they keep coming back.
“In spite of everything boards and legislatures do to suck the fun out of your job, here we are,” he said.
Kelly Pew, who is in her first year as superintendent, told the teachers two stories to encourage them to embrace each and every student and to do whatever they could to inspire a love of learning and a desire to achieve in them.
Students do not come to school perfect, Pew reminded them, and you never know the impact you can have on a child.
Durham said she hopes her new students develop a love for science this school year.
“I am looking forward to impacting every one of my students and encouraging them that science matters,” she said.
Rock Hill schools are back in session on Wednesday.