NEWBERRY — The School District of Newberry County named Beverly Wood and Maribel Martinez the 2017-18 Teacher of the Year and Support Staff Employee of the Year, respectively. All Teachers of the Year and Support Staff Employees of the Year were recognized during a reception last Thursday.
Wood, who is now an assistant principal at Mid-Carolina Middle School, received the award as a teacher from Whitmire Community School (secondary).
“I know I am not the best teacher in the District, and I will venture further to say I am not the best teacher in this room. I know this because I have learned so much from the people in this room and the staff members that they represent from their respective schools,” Wood said. “Like all successful teachers, I have a warm and welcoming heart for all students and I have an unshakable understanding that students can do anything they put their minds to.”
Wood said that teachers teach in difficult times. That the pressure to do more with less and the demand put on teachers at the state and federal level means they must celebrate their accomplishments and successes with their peers and community.
“I want new and future teachers to see how rewarding this profession is so we can continue to attract the best and brightest teachers to our community, as well as graduate exceptional students from our schools to go out and represent our community across the country,” Wood said. “What we do takes hard work, dedication and constant changing of our craft. You have been born with a gift for teaching, and you have been given the gift of working with children. You have a front row seat to the future, you build the future one child at a time, one teacher at a time.”
Wood said that there is a need for teachers to be a positive representation of the profession, and asked all teachers to be mindful of the public perception they give out. She gave five points to help each educator do just that.
The first is avoid the negative.
“It is so easy to get caught up in the negative, do not do it publicly. I know you are not going to have a good day every day, we have all heard the saying, fake it till you make it,” Wood said.
Wood suggested that teachers find their Vegas, and what they say in Vegas needs to stay there.
“Do not take it out into the community with you because if you take negativity out into the community it is viewed as an expert opinion. People remember the negative,” she said.
Second, make two positives for every negative. She asked teachers that when they see or hear something negative about their profession or their school, try and give two positives to offset it. She recommended they do this by not getting into a social media battle, but by posting something on their own pages.
“Share the good things I know you’ve got going on,” Wood said.
Third, project a positive social media presence.
“Be aware of the funny meme you post, everything you post, share or like shows up on your friends timelines. Share what is going on good inside your school or classroom. Get the good news out, flood the timelines with messages with what is good about teaching and why we love our jobs,” Wood said.
“If you are not a registered voter, please register. If you are a registered voter, please vote. I am challenging all Teachers of the Year tonight to send a note to the representatives in our area, introducing yourself as the Teacher of the Year from your school and thanking them for their service to public education,” Wood said. “We want to stay on their minds, we are working everyday in their community and their decisions affect us.”
Fifth, support each other.
“Work together, help each other, learn from each other, within and outside your content area, within and outside of your building,” Wood said. “Do not be afraid of sharing what you have going on in your classroom, we all want the same outcome for our students, for them to be positive, productive, life long learners.”
Along with being teacher of the year, Wood also received a $1,000 unrestricted grant from the Taylor Foundation.
Martinez has worked for the Newberry County School District for eight years, beginning at Mid-Carolina High School, then Newberry Middle School and now the Newberry County Career Center. She began working for the District three months after her arrival to Newberry, from Mexico.
“There is no greater success then being recognized for what you do, this award has given me that. It is also a reward for all the hard times and sacrifices my family and I have done for the last eight years,” Martinez said. “One of those sacrifices was making the decision to move to a new country. This means leaving behind our house, family and friends. Having to adapt to a new life when everything from the culture to the language is completely different.”
During her time working for the District, Martinez enrolled in a program to help her learn English. She said working in a school was what really helped her, because she is able to work daily with fluent English speakers.
“As the Support Staff Employee of the Year, I would like to give a piece of advise to everyone. It does not matter who you are or what position you hold, what matters is you never give up and always do your best. Be a role model to the next generation. In life we have to be grateful for the good things we work for, and remember the bad things are experiences that help us learn for the next time,” Martinez said.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.