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Unsung Educator of the Week

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 stephen_wyatt@charleston.k12.sc.us

Todd Wilklow, Teacher Assistant
Mary Ford Early Learning & Family Center

Todd Wilklow"Mr. Todd has been an incredible addition to the Mary Ford family this year. He exemplifies our motto "Stand Tall, Aim High" each and every day with his interactions with both students and staff.

 
He is always willing to do whatever is asked, jump in wherever he is needed, and bring a sense of calm wherever he goes. He is patient and kind at all times, no matter what situations he may encounter.
 
Mr. Todd is a truly dedicated and dependable member of our family here at Mary Ford, and we are so grateful to have him here to help us support some of our most fragile scholars." --nominated by a colleague

Jennifer Johnson, Lead Teacher
Laing Middle School

Jennifer Johnson"We deeply appreciate her constant support as the lead teacher for our son at Laing Middle School.  

Our child is a bright and quirky kid who struggles with learning differences. He entered Laing this past year as a 7th grader with a myriad of academic experiences.

From day one, Ms. Johnson has been our child's biggest cheerleader. At the beginning of the year, she kept a close eye to make sure that he adjusted well and that he followed the school’s protocols. She has continued to monitor him throughout the school year, making sure that he understands his assignments and helping him speak up for himself.  

Ms. Johnson helped us as we negotiated compensatory services overdue from our previous school as well as developed a new IEP. We felt supported and were encouraged that everyone at the table was on our team. Ms. Johnson is a constant source of support, always keeping our child's best interests at heart when helping us find the best way to advocate for him."  -- nominated by a parent 

Tegan Bondy, Honors English
West Ashley High School

Tegan Bondy"Ms. Bondy is constantly going above and beyond for her students. She cares for them to succeed in both their academic careers and their personal lives. She is the kind of teacher who will FaceTime her kids when she is out for the day to help them with their research papers and answer questions about annotated bibliographies. She holds her students to high standards and does everything she can to ensure they meet them.

In addition to being an outstanding English educator, Ms. Bondy is also the leader of the Speech and Debate team at our school. 


You can always count on seeing her at sporting events and band and choir concerts supporting all of her students. She is always willing to pick up the slack and volunteer for whatever the school needs. 


She is simply outstanding and doesn’t get the recognition she deserves!" -- nominated by a colleague

Lisarose Galloway, Speech/Language Pathologist K-5
W.B. Goodwin Elementary School
Lisarose Galloway

"Lisarose Galloway, our dedicated speech and language pathologist, goes above and beyond for the students at our school, taking care of not just their speech and language needs, but also their social and emotional well-being.

Lisarose demonstrates compassion and generosity by supporting her colleagues and organizing charity initiatives within our school community. She personally buys clothing and household items for students in need and ensures that every student has access to necessary resources like glasses by remaining in contact with community programs. 

Her commitment to helping students make progress in speech and language is remarkable. Lisarose's efforts and positive attitude make her an asset to our school team! She truly embodies the qualities of kindness, empathy, and dedication that make her an outstanding educator deserving of recognition!" 
-- nominated by a colleague


Traci Alter, Parent Advocate

Stono Park Elementary School

Traci Alter"Students truly are the heart of Traci's work. She is always willing to go above and beyond and do what it takes to make sure that our students have the best learning experience at our school. 

She works closely with all of the teachers at our school to make sure that students have what they need at both school and home to be successful. 

She never says no to an idea and works so hard to put on great events for our families to keep them involved in their student's learning experience. She is a key component in our math and literacy night events.

We are so lucky to have Traci and are grateful for her hard work and dedication to our students at Stono Park Elementary!" -- nominated by a colleague 

 

Angelica D'Antonio, Art Teacher 
Lucy Beckham High School

Angelica D'Antonio"Angelica D'Antonio is a big part of what makes our community special here at Lucy Beckham. She is a go-getter who engages her students, whether through her introductory art classes or during her after-school GTA textile classes. 

She also goes above and beyond to help others. For example, Angelica helped me make large 3D shoes for one of the school plays this year, spending lots of her free time ensuring I was all set. 

As well as this, just the other day, I was sitting in her classroom, and two teachers came in to approach her about helping them with projects (one was a mural for ROTC and the other was a logo design for our school's fabulous step team). D'Antonio was delighted to take these on and made sure that these two teachers were all set. 

She is involved in every aspect of the school and takes on any and all projects with grace, enthusiasm, and absolute brilliance. Outside of being a spectacular art teacher and involved prom planning committee member, she is a caring individual who always puts her students first, no matter what! 

I am proud to work with her and hope she is able to be recognized for all her phenomenal contributions to this school. "
-- nominated by a colleague

Dr. Michele Garris, Director of Guidance
Burke High School

Dr. Michele Garris"Dr. Garris goes above and beyond to help her students at Burke High. She coordinates ways to expose them to opportunities after high school. She organizes events that help them increase and embrace their social emotional understanding, which equips them with self-esteem and empowerment.

She has been part of the Burke High School staff for many years, in the school counseling department, proving that students are the heart of her work." --nominated by a colleague

 

Hayley Arduini, 3rd Grade Teacher
W.B. Goodwin Elementary

Hayley Arduini"I cannot sing the praises of Ms. Arduini enough; describing her teaching does not do it justice as it is an experience you need to be in attendance for to truly appreciate. Her approach and delivery of Math instruction are so much more advanced than her years of experience.

The relationships she has fostered with her students are admirable and have aided in the successful educational environment she has created. Ms. Arduini's classroom is a safe space for learning and growing, and a place that her students thrive in".  --nominated by a colleague

Bill Howard, Science Teacher/Volleyball Coach
Thomas C. Cario Middle

Bill Howard

"As a parent of one Coach Bill Howard’s former students, I am nominating him for CCSD’s “Unsung Educator of the Week”. Mr. Howard has long served as an 8th-grade science teacher and volleyball coach at Cario Middle School. He is dedicated to truly engaging his 8th graders in the science curriculum and making it interesting to them. He “gets” middle school kids, consistently holding them to high standards and encouraging both academic and personal growth.

His role as the volleyball coach at Cairo Middle School also had a profoundly positive impact on my daughter and her teammates. Not only does he run an exemplary program (as is evidenced by the number of wins he has amassed), but more importantly, he instills the valuable life lessons of teamwork, sportsmanship, and perseverance. The camaraderie and sense of community that he cultivates amongst his volleyball teams is palpable, and I'm beyond grateful that my daughter had the opportunity to be a part of it.

Bill Howard is making a significant difference in the lives of his Cario Middle School students. His selfless dedication, enthusiasm, and unwavering support of Cario students make him an ideal candidate to be recognized as an “Unsung Educator”. --nominated by a colleague

Liza Conrad, Assistant Principal
Ladson Elementary

Liza Conrad"Not only does Mrs. Conrad put students first, but she makes sure to put all her teachers first.

She has done an extraordinary job taking over as assistant principal this year. She makes sure teachers feel heard and understood. She helps with teacher morale and truly wants all her teachers to be and feel successful." -- nominated by a colleague

Kelly Kowalchick, P.E. Teacher
Mount Pleasant Academy

Kelly Kowalchick"Coach K is the heart and soul of the physical education program.
She demonstrates compassion, teamwork, and selflessness every day with her coworkers and students.
 
Coach K empowers each and every student to feel capable and strong. Her impact on MPA students goes far beyond the gym walls and pours into every classroom, hallway, and lunchroom.
 
Field Day, Friendship Day, and many other school community events are made possible because of the dedication and love she brings to work! CCSD & MPA are so lucky to have you as an educator." --nominated by a colleague

Chaisson Smith, Teacher-Librarian
Lambs Elementary School

Chaisson SmithTeacher Librarians add to literacy development by promoting classroom literacy practices and creating communities of readers.  Ms. Chaisson Smith is a teacher librarian who exemplifies excellence.  She wears so many hats at our school.  She promotes various literacy initiatives, such as our school Scholastic Book Fair in the fall and winter, Read Across America, our School News, Bean Stack and so much more.  

Ms. Smith also works with teachers on researching books and instructional materials for their classrooms.  She is highly engaged with our school community.  School librarians have a gift for inquiry skills.  

Ms. Smith not only teaches teachers and students how to find quality resources but also supports reading with purpose and understanding.  It's all about helping our students become high-level critical thinkers.  Ms. Smith is a mother, instructional partner, teacher, leader, information specialist, and program administrator who creates a community of readers.  We are so lucky to have her at Lambs Elementary!

April Blanton, P.E. Teacher/Archery Coach
Oakland Elementary

April Blanton

"Coach Blanton works tirelessly to provide opportunities for our students that they may not otherwise have access to.
 
She wrote a grant and had a climbing wall installed in our multipurpose room so that our students could learn about rock climbing. Another example of how Coach Blanton works to provide experiences for our students is her involvement in the First Tee Program. Each year, she takes a group of students to participate in the First Tee Golf Tournament.
 
Through this experience, students learn about golf and are coached on how to play. Coach Blanton has also supported a parent-led first-year tennis program this year that has yielded 3 teams. In addition to these things, Coach Blanton has single-handedly started an archery program at Oakland this year for our 4th and 5th graders. Archers who join the team compete against other schools around the Lowcountry.
 
Through these initiatives, I have seen student self-esteem and growth multiply exponentially.
 
While having 3 children of her own, Mrs. Blanton volunteers countless hours after school and on weekends to support our students. She is a true hero. " -- nominated by a colleague

Micah Brown, Assistant Administrator
Wando High School

Micah Brown

"Having Mr. Brown as an Assistant Principal in the Freshman Academy has been a wonderful asset to our school. He truly cares about all the kids at Wando and the teachers!
 
He has gone out of his way to have barbers and hairdressers come to our school and cut students' hair who cannot afford it or do not have the time to go.
 
He checks in with teachers and is always available to listen or to provide support." -- nominated by a colleague

Evangeline Freshly-Nelson
Hunley Park Elementary

Evangeline Freshly-NelsonMrs. Freshley-Nelson is an exceptional educator. With over twenty years of experience as an educator, she continues to find new ways to make students the heart of her work. She has sought out and scheduled many exceptional field trip opportunities for her students this year and will stop at nothing to make sure each student in her class has FUN while learning.

While the needs of her students are ever-changing, Mrs. Freshley-Nelson continuously seeks out learning opportunities to broaden her knowledge to meet all of the needs at Hunley Park. 

Not only does Mrs. Freshley-Nelson work tirelessly to love on and educate her students. She also goes out of her way to check in with other educators in her building, especially those new to the profession! She has taken many young teachers under her wing to make sure they feel supported and are working toward excellence daily!

Mrs. Freshley-Nelson truly is a one-of-a-kind woman who brightens Hunley Park with her caring and comedic spirit. 

Travis Gladden, Math Teacher 
Jerry Zucker Middle

Travis Gladden"Mr. Gladden has been a great mentor to all of his coworkers and a very motivating team leader. He has worked hard on building relationships with students and they respect and admire him as an educator. He always looks for new and exciting ideas to implement in the classroom.

Mr. Gladden worked hard to be an educator and has been doing his very best to make sure all his students are successful. He helps out with the afterschool program, he helps with the summer program, and he has started the National Beta Club with our school.

Mr. Gladden is a great leader, and we all applaud him in his effort to help all scholars succeed." -- nominated by a colleague 

Terryn Whaley, 2nd Grade Teacher
Ladson Elementary

Terryn Whaley"Terryn is a 2nd year teacher at Ladson Elementary. She ensures that her students are the heart of our work by creating lessons that foster her student's interests and always looking for ways to better meet each of her student's needs. Her passion for teaching and calm demeanor allows her to build relationships with each of her students.
 
She shows up to work early and on time each day to prepare her students for a warm morning welcome.
 
She is a great team player, has leadership qualities, and overall well-rounded personality.
 
She is truly an example of "Students are the Heart of Our Work". --nominated by a colleague

Melanie Maier, 3rd Grade Teacher 
Springfield Elementary

Melanie Maier"Mrs. Maier is a great teammate and teacher. She strives to make learning fun for her class. She is a great collaborator and always shares her good ideas with her team and colleagues.
 
This is the second year she has organized a Career Fair for our students, bringing volunteers to the school and creating a wonderful new experience for students." -- nominated by a colleague

Adriana Vasilut, Special Needs Teacher
St. John's High

Adriana Vasilut"Ms. Vasilut has joined our LIAU Team and has quickly become a vital part of the LIAU St. John's High School team.
 
Ms. V works very diligently with school and classroom staff, students, and parents. She truly exhibits what it means for students to be the heart of our work!" -- nominated by a colleague

Lauren King, Special Education
R.B. Stall High

Lauren King"Lauren is a great support to the students and department. She has found ways to support her team in staying organized with paperwork and ensuring services for all students. She thinks outside the box to provide services for 'special' situations.
 
Lauren is always happy, has a positive attitude, and is always willing to help."  -- nominated by a colleague
 

Riley Plenge, School Social Worker
Lucy Beckham High

Riley Plenge"Riley Plenge has been an incredible resource for students this year! She's a huge part of our anti-vaping task force and sets students up with needed support as well as holds groups on campus for them. Riley has been invaluable in connecting students and families with community agencies and mental health resources.
 
She's made incredible connections with students and always has students seeking her out for guidance and help.
 
She's started a food bank for students in need and is sponsoring a club that gets meals out to those who need them in the community.
 
Her impact is huge, and we couldn't have the reach that we do without her support." -- nominated by a colleague
 

Ella Meredith, Kindergarten Teacher
Hunley Park Elementary

Ella Meredith"Ms. Meredith is one of those Kindergarten teachers who her students will remember forever. She exhibits all three of CCSD's pillars daily. She provides rigorous grade-level instruction by utilizing the curriculum and differentiating it for each student.

She provides academic instruction for students of varying levels and meets each student where they are at presently while pushing them forward to meet new goals.

She demonstrates being a high-quality teacher and leader by ensuring her students have a caring adult in her.

She attends every school event and makes her students feel loved and heard. She ensure wrap-around services by collaborating with her grade level to provide opportunities for all their students to experience new things in their communities." -- nominated by a colleague
 
Lantie Slenzak, Front Office Secretary
Belle Hall Elementary
 
Lantie Slenzak"Lantie is the heart of our school office. She wears so many hats and helps all students, teachers, staff, parents, and visitors. Her positive attitude and calm demeanor is so appreciated. She is a problem solver and can handle any situation that is thrown her way. Students come to visit her in the office and parents feel comfortable reaching out with questions.
She builds positive relationships with everyone that she works with and students love her.
 
She is invaluable and a beloved member of the Belle Hall family."
 -- nominated by a colleague
 
Claudia Varas
CCSD Multilingual Outreach

Vara"Claudia is our office tech and works behind the scenes to ensure all accounts and money are spent correctly. She coordinates our meeting spaces, orders bilingual dictionaries and materials for teachers, translates documents, assists parents with registrations, supports data clerks with ML records review, creates digital resources for the department, proofreads communication and reports and plans all of our in house meetings and professional development sessions.
She is an essential part of the MSO Team!" -- nominated by a colleague


Stacey Lewis, 4th Grade Teacher

Charles Pinckney Elementary 

Stacey Lewis"I do not think people realize how much Stacey does for so many others. She spends so much of her own time making sure everyone else is okay. Stacey, at the beginning of every year, meets with teachers to help them set up their grade books and Canvas. She has created lessons for the new science standards for the district and is meeting with her team to share lessons and ideas as well as to help them plan. Stacey has been mentoring a new teacher on our team. She is the leader of the Wellness Committee and helps with the House Committee. She leads a prayer group on Mondays after school. All the while, planning the most engaging math and science lessons for her students. She prepares study guides, hand movements, songs, and dances to help her students learn the content. She shares EVERYTHING with EVERYONE!" -- nominated by a colleague

 

"Stacey works tirelessly to help students not only with academics but also with social & emotional support. She has a bottomless heart that cares for ALL of her students! Stacey rocks! Stacey presents her lessons in a hands-on way that engages her students. She also works hard to create a happy atmosphere in her room and helps students make friends. She teaches the whole student not just academics." -- nominated by a colleague

 

Mimi TierneyMimi Tierney, Art Teacher
West Ashley High 

"Ms. Tierney has gone above and beyond to grow the art program at West Ashley High School over the past few years. She has been with us. In addition to teaching all of her students art and creativity, she also runs the Art Club after school, where students help make banners for spirit weeks, pep rallies, and more.

She is always bringing positive energy to the hallways and her students absolutely adore her. She often does not get the recognition she deserves for everything she does. We are so lucky to have Ms. Tierney!" -- nominated by a colleague

 

Lindsay PogarLindsey Pogar
Exceptional Children

"Lindsey steps in confidently with her expertise and compassion in her role with students with special needs. Each day, she works to make sure that her students have the materials and support that they need to be successful in their educational environment. With patience and planning, Lindsey helps students with significant social-emotional needs to take small steps toward their goals.

Lindsey works in some challenging situations but never lets those challenges stop her...or even slow her down!

She truly works "magic" with her students and demonstrates genuine care and concern for each one. The love and respect that her students show for her each day is evidence that relationships and planning enable success even with challenging students and situations." -- nominated by a colleague

 

Unsung Educator
Whitney Wilson Spain, Teacher Recruitment
Human Resources
 
"Whitney works tirelessly to assist in finding, hiring, and supporting new staff for our schools. She is always willing to help in any situation and truly want to set staff up for success to support our students. She is extremely knowledgeable and is a creative problem solver. I know that whenever I come to her with an issue or concern, we will find a solution. She is an absolute pleasure to work with, and I am grateful for her." -- nominated by a colleague
 
 
Britney SmallsBritney Smalls, School Social Worker
North Charleston High 

"Britney is a selfless social worker who embodies the spirit of a servant leader. She is committed to the overall well-being of the students and families she serves at North Charleston High School.
 
Whether she is providing one on one counseling, deescalating a student, making home visits to ensure the wellbeing of students and families, assisting with student field trips, attending after-school extracurricular events to build relationships with students, or co-sponsoring the newly established female flag football team; she does it with ease, passion, and humility.
In addition to her direct service to North Charleston High School, she is also responsible for the onboarding of social work Interns throughout the school year.
 
Britney was also tasked with ensuring her social work colleagues had access to board-approved continuing education hours, a necessity for maintaining social work licensure.