The "Unsung Educator of the Week" is a weekly honor given to a CCSD educator. The winner is nominated by a peer because of their determination to go above and beyond for our students. The winner for the week is published each Friday in the CCSD All Staff newsletter.
CCSD employees may submit nominees via this link or by emailing a name, description, and photo to firstname.lastname@example.org
ARCHIVES: Unsung Educator 2019-2020
Wendy McIlwain, Instructional Coach
Sanders-Clyde Elementary School
"Wendy McIlwain is a consummate professional and exemplifies the meaning of a servant leader. She keeps students and staff at the heart of her work. She goes above and beyond the call of duty every single day. There is no task too monumental, or too minute that she is not willing to do in support of administration, staff, students, and families. Mrs. McIlwain is our go-to person for everything in education, whether it is curriculum, instruction, data, professional development, and student support. She actualizes the vision set forth by the administration and works tirelessly with all stakeholders for the success of Sanders-Clyde.
Being very data-driven, Mrs. McIlwain keeps data at the focal point of her work. She guides the teachers in becoming proficient users of data, uses her vast knowledge of the SC standards to enrich our instruction as well as develops plans for our tutoring programs and small-group instruction. Her door is always open - she gives support to our teachers in the classroom and the teachers have a wonderful rapport with her because they know she is there to help along with encouraging, fair feedback. Her positivity and love for learning shine through in the work she does with our teachers and students.
Mrs. McIlwain truly is an Unsung Educator of Charleston County School District! --nominated by a colleague
"Emily works tirelessly in and out of the class each and every day for the students and staff of West Ashley High School. From teaching Biology to 9th and 10th graders to planning an amazing prom as a Junior Class Sponsor and from organizing staff gatherings to earning her master's in Education Administration to becoming an incredible principal and leader one day, Emily puts her all into everything she does.
She is an extraordinary educator who will do anything for her students, those she works with, and the overall community of which she is a part. I am very grateful to work alongside her on projects too numerous to count which allows me to see her hard work and dedication firsthand.
The world needs more Emily Sandifer's...I'm grateful to call her a friend! - nominated by a colleague
Misti Jurecki - Special Ed Resource Teacher
James Island Elementary School
"Misti is such an amazing example of a loving and passionate special education teacher! She goes above and beyond to set high expectations for her students that allow them to reach their potential.
Her students constantly are growing!
Their progress alone demonstrates her commitment and the hard work she puts in each and every day. She supports a variety of students with disabilities in reading, math, and behavior. As a colleague, she is always willing to reach out a hand to help. She is an amazing resource for ideas and suggestions and creates an environment of collaboration.
I'm so grateful I get to work with her every day." - nominated by a colleague
Alleah Glover, LI2 Teacher
Hunley Park Elementary
"Ms. Glover is an incredible teacher. She engages all of her students in the curriculum while taking the time to meet them on their level and address their individual goals. Beyond her work with her classroom day-to-day, she has given her students opportunities beyond the classroom.
She planned a field trip to a local restaurant and collaborated with service providers so everyone can help to help prepare her students for this opportunity.
Ms. Glover also organized an adopt-a-classroom opportunity for local businesses and beyond to contribute to the Low Incidence classrooms at Hunley Park." -nominated. by a colleague
Lisa Eidson, CD Blend - Teacher's Assistant Springfield Elementary School
Ms. Eidson's compassion, empathy, and kindness towards her students in her CD blend class positivity, encourages and teaches her students how to engage in their social, emotional, and academic school.
She is a hands-on assistant who loves each and every one of her children and, in return, they adore her and strive to do well in school. She has created an environment where her children love school and are engaged in activities, thus wanting to be a part of our school family.
Ms. Eidson's impact on both the children and staff has made our world a better place. Her passion for her work comes from her heart and love for learning. She has an excellent relationship with her students and peers and she inspires all those whom she comes in contact with.
Holly Ritter, Reading Interventionalist
Pepperhill Elementary School
"Holly Ritter does an amazing job as a Reading Interventionist and Sunshine Committee Chair.
Ms. Ritter came to Pepperhill in 2017 as a second-grade teacher.
She keeps staff morale up with her amazing planning of unofficial national holidays and incorporating the Staff Outings and Spirit Weeks (the latest one was March Madness) and Mellow Mushroom for National Pizza Day.
For National Potato Chip Day we all received a bag of potato chips in our mailbox and for National Chocolate Day we all received a chocolate bar in our mailbox.
It is those little things that make coming to work special!"
Carolyn Grant, Day Porter
"Carolyn puts her heart into building relationships with faculty, parents, and students alike. Ms. Carolyn always has a smile to pass on and a remark to make us laugh.
She treats the faculty to lunch, sponsors events for students, makes note of student needs, and quietly ensures they are met. She is gracious yet humble. "
Stephen D'Amato, CD/2ndHarbor View Elementary
"Stephen is selfless, hard-working, and deeply cares for his students and coworkers. After the unexpected passing of our coworker, Stephen offered to rejoin the second-grade team and take over the class so her students and team would be greeted with a familiar face and have consistency throughout the rest of the year after experiencing trauma together.
Stephen's willingness to put his feelings aside and do what is best for children is one reason, among many, why Stephen exemplifies the statement, "Students are the Heart of Our Work."
Diana Barrett, Science Teacher
James Island Charter High School
"Ms. Barrett is a consummate educator who works tirelessly to provide her students with rigor. Her lessons are well-structured and interesting and she is always looking for new ways to engage students through both fictional and non-fictional literature that has a scientific bent.
Ms. Barrett also uses a variety of modalities to reach differing learners. From creating models of cells and organelles to grotesque science videos, she looks for creative ways to engage reluctant learners and to make science not only more interesting, but accessible.
Her consistent grading policies and classroom management make her a model educator and students can depend on her to be tough, but fair. She lays out her expectations and holds students accountable."
February 9, 2023
Alfreda Brown/ CD Head Start Assistant
Mount Zion Elementary School!
"Mrs. Brown is an assistant in the CD Head Start classroom at Mt. Zion Elementary. Mrs. Brown is the epitome of dedication. She is dedicated to ensuring each student in the classroom is learning and being prepared for Kindergarten. She works diligently with them each day.
Mrs. Brown is so patient, attentive, and caring with our young scholars. She goes above and beyond each day that she walks into this building. She is such an inspiration to those around her.
Mrs. Brown is a true and perfect example of the motto "Students are the Heart of Our Work". -nominated by a colleague
February 2, 2023
Allison Szweda, AP Math Teacher
R.B. Stall High School
"Mrs. Szweda is the AP Calculus Teacher and Math Department Head Teacher here at R.B. Stall High School. Every day Mrs. Szweda comes to school with the goal to make sure her students not only succeed but feel as prepared as they can be for their classwork and AP exams.
Mrs. Szweda is willing to go above and beyond to help make sure her students understand the subject they are learning and even points out constantly how it can help them in their future careers and goals as they prepare for graduation.
Mrs. Szweda is also dedicated to leading our National Honors Society and Beta Club students to help create a caring, fostering inclusive community among the student body here at Stall High School. Everything she does when she is teaching, tutoring, or mentoring these groups is all done with a heart that truly cares about the students and sees them succeed now and in their future.
She is our school's example of how students are the heart of our work here at Stall High School every single day. Not only that but she is dedicated to the teachers in and outside her department to make sure they have what they need in order to be successful educators.
She always provides a listening ear and mentoring advice when asked by other teachers. She is willing to help in any way she possibly can here at Stall High School and truly has a Heart of a Warrior. "
January 26, 2023
Ashley Johnson, Autism Teacher
C.E. Williams Middle School (North)
"Ashley Johnson is an awesome teacher that goes above and beyond to make sure her students' life skills and academic needs are met.
At her previous school, she allowed her students to gain work experience by opening up a Bitty and Beau Coffee Shop in the school. The students really loved It. Also, she created a parent networking group.
Ashley and the parents along with their kids would meet occasionally outside of school and go to different events. She is awesome." -nominated by a colleague
Jasmine Robinson Kaleidoscope Coordinator
James Simons Montessori
Jasmine has demonstrated teamwork from the time she started under Darron Teal years ago at James Simons. She was always stepping up to the plate by assisting parents like me who has a million and one questions about different programs the kids can join. Since she has taken on the Site Coordinator position, she treats each child like they are her own by showing love with a dash of sternness.
Jasmine exemplifies RESPECT no matter who you are, what age, or what position you hold. If respect is given, respect will be shown. I believe this is why her team supports her and her children EXCELS.
January 12, 2023
Turning Point Academy
"Mr. King is a teacher, an educator in every sense of the word. He truly puts students as the "Heart of his Work". His PBIS ticket program positively changes the behavior in so many students. He is also the founder of Project 82 which brings awareness to literacy in South Carolina. Mr. King also serves on charities from giving out turkeys to full Thanksgiving dinners for families. Mr. King is active in CCSD on the Teacher of the Year round table and the Teacher Pay Task Force.
Mr. King as President of the Charleston County Education Association, has impacted the community and students lives in many ways from sponsoring the Baptist Hill Volleyball Team (300$), Girls with Pearls (1,000$) and Workmens Cafe ($300).
This year he restarted the Septima Clark Leadership Award, which CCEA awarded to Dr. Binyard and Ms. Robinson of Clark Academy. The award originally given in 1974 for service to students will now be awarded annually.
Mr. King is a retired military officer, who is now continuing his life of service by putting students first." -nominated by a colleague
January 5, 2023
Nathaniel Pearson, Assistant Principal
North Charleston High School
Mr. Pearson evinces the epitome of teamwork. Whenever a faculty or staff member is in need of assistance and no matter how busy his agenda is, he assists. Often he is called upon to take on extra administrative chores and has yet to make a complaint.
Often from co-workers, his advice is sought from discipline to student counseling, from curriculum to extra-curricular activities, and from college and career readiness to sporting events and transportation.
He is an assistant principals' assistant principal. In addition, he is very trustworthy. If he says he is going to accomplish a task, please consider the task accomplished as one never has to worry about his worth ethics. He is objective, judicious, sagacious, creative, and always has a sense of calmness. Mr. Pearson is well-loved by all - particularly students. He has developed relationships with students whom he very much trusts, and as a result, he does the very best for all students who are in need of him.
He never tires of the quotidian tasks that he is described as the "Energizer Bunny" - never has anyone seen him idle. He is indeed always on the go with his instructional and non-instructional responsibilities and assignments. However, no educational administrator is beyond reproach. Sadly, however, the only criticism of him is that he eats too much candy!" --nominated by a colleague
December 8, 2022
Julie Garrett, Middle School Science
St. James-Santee ES/MS
Mrs. Garrett personifies dedication and excellence in her profession. She is always willing to go the extra mile for students and help them succeed. Their well-being and success is always her priority which means she is never idle but always working hard to help every middle school student at St. James Santee.
There is no problem she doesn't try to solve and no child she doesn't help. She is a real team player, a valuable educator, and a fantastic community member. --nominated by a colleague
December 1, 2022
E.B. Ellington Elementary School
Mrs. Deveney is the heart and soul of our fine arts department at E. B. Ellington. She leads the arts integration initiative at our school by modeling collaboration between the arts and general education teachers. She is reflective and constantly fine-tuning her craft by seeking opportunities to learn, not just about music education, but also about general education curriculum and initiatives.
She takes Spanish classes in her free time to better connect with our multilingual learners.
At Ellington, she is also responsible for most of the large grants and collaborative partnerships with community organizations, such as Charleston Stage. --nominated by a colleague
November 17, 2022
"Darlinda Cox is the most passionate, caring, selfless, creative, and dedicated educator I know. CCSD is lucky to have her join in as a Child Development Teacher this year at Drayton Hall Elementary.
Darlinda is a team player and always goes the extra mile in and out of the classroom to make learning fun! Darlinda goes above and beyond to engage her students.
She spends countless hours creating exciting lessons to engage her students.
Darlinda Cox is the type of teacher that every parent wants for their child!
We need more teachers like her in our profession." --nominated by a colleague
November 10, 2022
CCSD’s Work-based Learning Partnerships Coordinator
"The first time I met Chad he came into my classroom and wrote on the whiteboard, "IT'S ALL ABOUT THE KIDS"!
I came to realize very quickly, this was not just lip service! The guy is always on the move working, day and night!
He works with businesses to create internships for our students, and constantly follows up with these scholars and supervisors.
These partnerships are so vital in preparing our students for a variety of different careers and he has made it a priority to promote STEM/STEAM activities in our schools!
I have never met anyone with more passion for their job and life than Chad!
Not to mention, he probably is the nicest person that you will ever meet! If our job is to prepare students for life after high school, give Chad and his team an A+ for the work they are doing!"
--nominated by a colleague
November 3, 2022
Mike Grant, Student Concern Specialist
CCSD Early College High School
"Mr. Grant greets all ECHS students as they enter the building each morning with a smile and words of encouragement. He also encourages them to grab some breakfast that is "delicious and nutritious!" He generally cares about the well-being of our students and takes the time to check on students when he senses there is a need.
Mr. Grant also helps to keep our students safe as they attend their college classes at the TTC Palmer Campus. He checks all the doors to ensure safety protocols are met and helps keep attendance records for these classes. He will tell you he has the best job in the world and we at ECHS are so lucky he's ours." --nominated by a colleague
October 27, 2022
Dr. Shavonna Coakley
Director of School Support
Dr. Coakley is relentless in her endeavors to create safe and orderly schools across the entire district. Whether she is needed to problem-solve a difficult situation, provide clarification on a decision, intervention, or consequence, or be present through every stage of contentious and difficult scenarios, Dr.
Coakley is a reliable constant for school leaders to rely on. It is not uncommon to receive an email from Dr. Coakley late at night or early in the morning, which is evidence of the amount of time she commits and sacrifices to help building-level leaders.
Dr. Coakley’s work in supporting schools results in safe and conducive learning environments for all CCSD students and staff. Her efforts are felt throughout every school in CCSD, often without praise or recognition. When thinking about an “unsung educator,” I would challenge anybody to name a member of the CCSD family whose reach extends further and whose impact is felt greater behind the scenes than Dr. Coakley." -- nominated by a colleague
October 20, 2022
West Ashley High School
"Jessie Mintz is the very definition of "Students are the Heart of Our Work". She is consistently working and striving to serve our students at West Ashley High School. She sponsors clubs to help students engage in extracurricular activities and find a community. She also volunteers at the Cat Mobile (a PBIS incentive) and supports the culinary students by visiting the Bistro!
However, Jessie' Mintz's passion for WAHS does not stop with our students. She is a strong advocate for the well-being of our teachers. She leads the Teacher Wellness Committee, where she creates monthly newsletters, sponsors wellness events, and is always there spreading positivity.
October 13, 2022
Michael Brown, Roslyn Campbell, and Cheryl Savage
"Dunston Elementary was used as a shelter for Hurricane Ian and our principal, Cheryl Savage, day porter, Mr. Brown, and focus facilitator, Roslyn Campbell, spent 56 hours straight at school to care for the 60 people who came to the shelter, even sleeping at school.
They worked tirelessly to care for the physical and emotional needs of those seeking refuge and then came back to school Monday morning, as usual, to care for the needs of our students."
--nominated by a colleague
October 6, 2022
Elissa Flavin, Kindergarten
Stono Park Elementary
"Miss Flavin goes above and beyond everyday to ensure her Kindergarteners have a supportive, meaningful, and fun first year of school.
She works tirelessly to plan creative and engaging lessons that help her students meet grade level standards while still giving them opportunities to build social and emotional skills.
She cares for each child in her classroom and always makes sure they feel safe, loved, and empowered while at school.
Elissa is also a natural leader and is always willing to go out of her way to help anyone who needs it.
Elissa’s kids and colleagues are lucky to have her! " --nominated by a colleague
September 29, 2022
CCSD Nutrition Services
Cindy has worked with CCSD in the Nutrition Services department for 27 years. Starting out as the youngest manager to come on board, Cindy successfully managed multiple school cafeterias, winning manager of the year for her work at West Ashley High School
. Cindy then went onto become a project manager, working on supper, afterschool snack and our summer meals program.
Cindy has now moved into an operations manager position with Nutrition Services, where she takes her vast knowledge out to schools to train and coach new and existing managers, all the while working on the programs she has fostered and developed."
September 22, 2022
Liliana Montalvo-Perez (Bilingual Secretary)
Ladson Elementary School
"Ms. Lilly works so hard helping our Hispanic families, and those who identify with the Spanish language. It is so refreshing to see how our Spanish speaking families, who come in nervous to communicate, light up when they see her in the front office. It gives them a level of comfort and confidence to advocate for their child, knowing their concerns can be clearly communicated.
Even more, Ms. Lilly often takes the time to visit classrooms of our children who are still learning to communicate in English. When she looks at them and says, "hola" the look on their face is priceless!
Fear goes away, a smile arrives, and often tears disappear with a simple hug from her. Ms. Lilly has worked with not only Ladson families, but also the families of Goodwin & Lambs Elementary over the past 10 years.
She has made such an impact everywhere she goes, that we have even had families who she helped years ago, come in to find her.
Often it is to just say thank you, or to show her how well the student is now doing in Middle or High School. These families also share with their neighbors how amazing Lilly is! We are so lucky to have her!" --nominated by a colleague
September 15, 2022
Expanded Learning Kaleidoscope
"Meghan has worked with CCSD for over ten years. She works diligently to support the recruitment of qualified staff for 50 Kaleidoscope and 21st CCLC afterschool programs. She has worked as a site coordinator, assistant site coordinator, and counselor; she is a proud graduate of the College of Charleston.
Meghan believes that qualified staff helps to promote the vision and goal of CCSD. One of her beliefs is that ALL CCSD children, especially at the early learning and elementary school levels should have the opportunity to participate in afterschool learning (academic support, exposing students to enrichment activities, and socializing with peers) in a safe and fun environment.
If you ask her supervisor and co-workers what they admire most about Meghan, you will get a consistent theme "Meghan has been a great asset to our department, and we are so glad she is on our team!"
September 9, 2022
Rebecca Accolla, Assistant Principal
Pinckney Elementary School
Mrs. Accolla lives to help others. She has joined our staff here as a teacher in the past and is now our assistant principal. She spent many hours over the summer painting the walls in the hall. When something needs to get done, she is on it in a minute. I have never seen her standing still. No job is beneath her. If it needs fixing, painted, scrubbed or replaced, she is on it. She even took home the classroom trash cans and power sprayed them. She does this all for the kids. So they can have a safe, clean and inviting environment. We appreciate everything she does for us all. Pinckney is blessed to have her.
September 4, 2022
James Simons Montessori School
"Mr. Phillip" joined the James Simons community during the 2021-2022 school year, and our students and staff have been the beneficiaries. Officially serving as a Teacher Assistant in a Lower Elementary classroom, Mr. Phillip shares his calm energy to all of the students who he encounters. He is always willing to lend a helping hand and is a true team player.
Mr. Phillip understands that relationships are the foundation to success and he takes the time to get to know the students. His sense of humor and caring smile let everyone know that he is someone to be trusted. Whether it is when he is greeting students in the cafeteria or taking a walk with a friend who may be having a tough day, Mr. Phillip continuously exemplifies the power of kindness. Additionally Mr. Phillip helps elevate his student’s potential by truly listening to them and learning about their lives and encouraging them to share their gifts, even if they are not yet able to see those gifts. He is a true visionary and a natural Montessorian who sees the good in everyone, even if, and especially if, they don’t see that good in themselves.
During the 21-22 school year as students were rehabilitating to full time school after a year and a half of virtual instruction and a myriad of other learning obstacles that the Covid19 Pandemic brought, Mr. Phillip served as a rock in our community. His stability and consistency was something that students and staff alike learned to rely on.
As this new school year begins, we are once again blessed to be in the presence of such an enlightened educator and positive person who reminds us what really matters in life and school. We love and appreciate you Mr. Phillip! --nominated by a colleague
August 29, 2022
Julia Carter-Wood, Interventionist
Meeting Street at Burns Elementary
Mrs. Carter-Wood as an Unsung Educator exudes the absolute care, compassion and concern for our students.
Mrs. Carter-Wood exemplifies putting students at the heart of her work daily. She goes above and beyond for our kiddos by ensuring her learning environment is rigorous yet joyful. She holds high expectations while still showing a whole lot of love. She is patient, thorough, nerdy over data, teaches with such urgency like her hair is on fire, she's a fabulous listener and a constant #1 supporter for all of our kiddos and their families.
In addition to being a great help to our students and families, she supports her colleagues in the same manner.
Meeting Street @ Burns is SO LUCKY to have someone with her knowledge, expertise and passion! Everyone loves Mrs. Carter-Wood!!!!