NEWBERRY COUNTY — Frances Meetze and Debra Rowe, both of Mid-Carolina High School, have been named the District Teacher of the Year and the District Support Staff Employee of the Year for 2016-17, respectively.
Meetze is a product of Newberry County Schools, and has worked as a social studies teacher and department chair at Mid-Carolina High School for the past five years.
“During this time, her record has been impeccable, her capability as a teacher and leader has been an inspiration to us all,” said Ray Cooper, principal at Mid-Carolina High School. “She is respected by her colleagues and literally loved by her student. Ms. Meetze sets high expectations for all of her students, she expects that all students can and will achieve in her classroom, she does not give up on the underachievers and encourages her students and she gives them what they sometimes get no where else, a sense that they have promise, that they have talents and that they are special.”
Meetze said she has three quotes that define her as a teacher.
The first quote is by James Comer: “No significant learning can occur without a significant relationship.”
“As a teacher, I strive to first create strong relationships with all of my students. From meeting some of them at orientation, to the first day of school, to the last day of class, I am talking to my students on a personal level, getting to know them as people, not just as students in my classroom,” Meetze said.
“While getting to know them, I also let them get to know me on a personal basis. I do not just want to be their teacher, but someone that they can feel comfortable around and come to for anything,” she added. “I tell corny jokes, talk about my own children and family, tell them about my high school experiences, and I love spirit weeks when I can dress up and let the students get a good laugh.”
By creating these relationships, the students know Meetze genuinely care about them and their well being.
“I take pride in knowing that I can reach these students on a level that others cannot and am able to teach them history in the process,” Meetze said.
The second quote is by Alexander K. Trenfor: “The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see.”
“I have had many students tell me that I am too hard or that I ask too much of them. These same students come back to me the next year and say, ‘thank you, you were right.’ While I am a history teacher, it is not just my job to teach history. I am here to teach these students how to think for themselves and learn on their own,” Meetze said.
The third quote is by Haim Ginott: “Treat a child as though he already is the person he’s capable of becoming.”
“Students walk into our classrooms every day who are not working up to their potential. It is my job as an educator to help them see what they can become. I treat each of my students as the student that I know they can be,” Meetze said. “Even if they are not doing well in class and claim they are just bad at history, I push them knowing what they are capable of. This push just might be the push they need to see the potential in themselves.”
During her second year teaching, Meetze said she had a student in her sixth grade single gender class who struggled with his school work. Meetze kept pushing him, knowing he could do better.
“Two years ago, I watched that young man walk across the stage at his high school graduation. I found him after the ceremony and he told me then that he was heading to Spartanburg Methodist College. I could not stop the tears. The boy who worked so hard to get through sixth grade was going to college. That was one of the best feelings I have had as an educator,” Meetze said.
The other 2016-17 Teachers of the Year included Leslie McDuffie of Newberry High, Carla Livingston of Boundary Street Elementary, LaShonda Sweetenburg of Gallman Elementary, Sherry Swindler of Little Mountain Elementary, Kerry G. Frick of Mid-Carolina Middle and Samuel W. Moore of Newberry Alternative.
Also, Carrie Montgomery of Newberry County Career Center, George Banner of Newberry Elementary, Cristin Atchison of Newberry Middle, Janet Ashmore of Pomaria-Garmany Elementary, Kathy A. Waites of Prosperity-Rikard Elementary, Kelly Whitlock of Reuben Elementary, Joyce Hall of Whitmire Community School (Elementary), and Andrew Bowers of Whitmire Community School (Secondary).
As a cafeteria manager, Rowe is responsible for feeding more than 800 students breakfast and lunch each day.
“Between preparing healthy meals for our students, adhering to strict nutrition standards navigating student food allergies and offering service with a smile, Debra Rowe and her staff are true heroes,” Cooper said. “The quality of food and service that students at Mid-Carolina High School receive on a daily basis during breakfast and lunch is the best, and our school is fortunate to have such a dedicated person.”
Rowe thanked God for giving her the most amazing job in the world, because she loves to feed children.
“I love what I am doing, I love the teachers and staff at Mid-Carolina, but I love the students more. I have this philosophy, I love teachers, they are amazing at what they do, but I do not think you can teach a hungry child, because you have to meet that need before you can meet that need to want to learn,” Rowe said. “So I think we all work together as one. We get them fed, they teach them, we send them home, we come back, we do it again.”
The other 2016-17 Support Staff Employees of the Year included Johnette Gary of Gallman Elementary, Lynn McDonald of Boundary Street, Marvis Floyd of the District Office, Robert Whitney of Little Mountain Elementary, Missy Whitley of Mid-Carolina Middle School, Tonya Deese-Jeter of Newbery Alternative and Kim Ackerman of Newberry County Career Center.
Also, Christie Knight of Newberry Elementary, Janet Ward of Newberry High, Jennifer Long of Newberry Middle, Maggie Senn of Pomaria-Garmany Elementary, Meredith Fulmer of Prosperity-Rikard Elementary, Robin Icard of Reuben Elementary, and April Gilliam of Whitmire Community School.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.