FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 16, 2016 / TOY 2016-17 announcement
Hilton Head Island High teacher honored as 2016-17 District Teacher of the Year
BEAUFORT – An English teacher with more than 30 years of classroom experience was named today as the 2016-2017 District Teacher of the Year.
The selection of Elizabeth MacMurray, who teaches ninth-grade English at Hilton Head Island High School, was announced during a breakfast celebration to honor teachers of the year from all of the district’s schools.
Superintendent Jeff Moss said that MacMurray had “the experience and passion necessary to represent every teacher in our district.”
“Her level of experience is hard to miss,” Moss said. “One conversation with her can change the mind of any parent, student or community member who has negative views on education.”
After today’s announcement, Martha Hartley, chief financial officer of Hilton Head Buick-GMC-Cadillac, offered MacMurray her choice of a $5,000 cash prize or $5,000 that she could apply toward a vehicle offered for sale at the dealer’s invoice price.
“Year after year we’re pleased to take part in such an honorable celebration. And this year, we are excited to reward Elizabeth,” said Tom Fitzgerald, the dealership’s owner. “Here at Hilton Head Buick-GMC-Cadillac, we strive to support the teachers of our community and the Teacher of the Year program because we understand the important role that teacher’s play in every child’s life.”
The Foundation for Educational Excellence announced an additional $1,000 grant award for MacMurray to support innovative instructional opportunities for her students. The foundation created the grant in memory of Wayne Carbiener, a former Board of Education member whose life and tenure on the Board reflected his support and admiration for teachers.
The four other finalists for 2015-16 District Teacher of the Year were Lawrence Anderson of Mossy Oaks Elementary School, Bebe Cifaldi of Hilton Head School for the Creative Arts, Kelly Goudy of Robert Smalls International Academy, and Jennifer Stoddard of Beaufort Middle School.
MacMurray, a National Board-certified teacher and daughter of two teachers, has been in the classroom since 1982 and says that teaching is in her blood. “If scientists can’t find it in my DNA, then psychologists should study my environment to debate whether nature or nurture influences destiny,” she said.
Principal Amanda O’Nan described MacMurray as “magical” and described her as a teacher she would want her own children to have. “She teaches every student as if they were her own,” O’Nan said. “She has a heart of gold and that’s why our students gravitate to her. Magic happens in her classroom.”
District Director of Personnel Reginald Deas said that MacMurray is the perfect model for a teacher in any school setting.
“She is a dynamic and powerful communicator who possesses the gift of being able to make complex knowledge understandable,” Deas said. “In spite of her formidable gifts, she is a humble and approachable person who loves to share her extensive knowledge with others.”
MacMurray said that her teaching style stems from her acceptance of the challenge to turn negative views about education into positive learning outcomes.
“Every day I work to gather some tinder, to find a spark, and to fuel a flame in teens who don’t always care to be in school,” MacMurray wrote in her Teacher of the Year application.
According to MacMurray, her greatest reward in education is seeing even the subtlest change of attitude in a reluctant worker.
MacMurray’s holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Secondary Education and English from Boston College. Prior to joining Beaufort County School District in 2004, she taught in Metuchen School District in New Jersey, Pennridge School District in Pennsylvania.
Becoming District Teacher of the Year is a three-step process that begins when school-level teachers of the year are selected in April. Those wishing to compete for District Teacher of the Year submit detailed applications by the end of July.
In the second step, a selection committee consisting of parents, former educators and community leaders from across Beaufort County reviews the applications and rates them using a numerical scoring system. The five highest-scoring applicants are named as finalists.
In the third step, the finalists are interviewed by a separate review committee again composed of judges from across the county. Those panelists begin by reviewing videos of the teachers doing classroom lessons. The judges then score candidates based on how well they respond to questions about the teaching methods shown in the videos, as well as how they respond to questions about current education issues. After those interviews, the panel selects the District Teacher of the Year in September, and that person represents Beaufort County in the South Carolina State Teacher of the Year program. Finalists for the state program will be announced in February.
2016-17 Teachers of the Year, listed by school:
Battery Creek High Martha Sette
Beaufort Elementary Rachel Hickman
Beaufort High Jordan Plair
Beaufort Middle Jennifer Stoddard**
Beaufort/Jasper ACE Demeterie Warren
Bluffton Elementary/ECC Brian Lewis
Bluffton High Shannon Reilly
Bluffton Middle Lee Trew
Broad River Elementary Jacqueline Simmons
Coosa Elementary Anna Wheeler
H. E. McCracken Middle Sara Ricciardi
Hilton Head Island ECC Sandra Ferguson
Hilton Head High Elizabeth MacMurray**
HHI International Baccalaureate Elementary Mary Baker
Hilton Head Island Middle Kathleen Clark
HHI School for the Creative Arts Bebe Cifaldi**
Islands Academy Margaret Engler
James J. Davis Early Childhood Center April Smalls
Joseph S. Shanklin Elementary Marvette Washington
Lady’s Island Elementary Lisa Ten Eyck
Lady’s Island Middle Nan Burvenich
Michael C. Riley Elementary/ECC Linda Burton
Mossy Oaks Elementary Lawrence Anderson**
Okatie Elementary Bree Lauffer
Port Royal Elementary Anne Glaze
Pritchardville Elementary Michelle Quisenberry
Red Cedar Elementary Polly Gump
River Ridge Academy Amanda Bray
Robert Smalls International Academy Kelly Goudy**
St. Helena Elementary/ELC Sara Reynolds-Green
Whale Branch Early College High Tyrone Jackson
Whale Branch Elementary April Smalls
Whale Branch Middle Felicia English
**District Teacher of the Year Finalists