"Teachers are the gateway to students' futures."

Megan DeWeese named 2020-21 District Teacher of the Year
Posted on 10/09/2020
Megan DeWeese

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Okatie Elementary teacher honored as
2020-2021 District Teacher of the Year

BEAUFORT – A first-grade teacher who recently earned her doctorate degree was named today as the Beaufort County’s 2020-2021 District Teacher of the Year.

The selection of Megan DeWeese, Ed.D., who teaches at Okatie Elementary School, was announced during a faculty meeting at the school.

“I was so shocked, so humbled,” DeWeese said. “We have amazing teachers in this district. I feel so blessed and humbled to be chosen to represent our teachers.”

Okatie Elementary Principal Jamie Pinckney said DeWeese is true to her heart as she not only lives and breathes teaching, but deeply loves it. 

“She is a perpetual learner; she has completed her doctoral studies over the last year,” Pinckney said. “She’s only been at Okatie Elementary for five years and she’s already accomplished more in her five than I have in 39.”

The four other finalists for 2020-2021 District Teacher of the Year were Julie Markle at Pritchardville Elementary School, Jonathan Miller at Beaufort High School, Michelle Taylor at Hilton Head Island IB Elementary School, and Roderick Williams at Battery Creek High School.

For DeWeese, becoming a teacher has always been her dream.

“Teachers have the grand opportunity to change the future and make a difference in the lives of other people, particularly children,” she wrote in her Teacher of the Year application. “The influence of teachers does not stop at academics, yet it goes beyond the curriculum. Teaching is an elite profession and I believe it is the most important profession in our society.”

DeWeese says teachers are the gateway to students’ futures. “The impact that a teacher has on students has a tremendous effect on the intrinsic motivation that the students will have throughout school and furthermore, throughout life.” She believes that for this reason, teachers should not only ensure that students are successful, but that they also feel successful. “It is imperative for teachers to be nurturers, encouragers, supporters, and to establish strong rapports with each student.”

DeWeese holds a Doctorate of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of South Carolina and a Master of Arts in Teaching Early Childhood Education from Armstrong State University. She holds Gifted and Talented (GT) and Read to Succeed endorsements. She is certified in Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP), helping to make content material more comprehensible to English Language Learners. She is a member of the Palmetto State Teachers Association.

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. The judges scored candidates based on how well 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.

2020-2021 Teachers of the Year listed by school:

Battery Creek High

Roderick Williams*

Beaufort Elementary

Carmalita Lawton

Beaufort High

Jonathan Miller*

Beaufort Middle

Scott Lopatka

Beaufort/Jasper Academy Career Excellence

Sam Carpenter

Bluffton Elementary/ Early Childhood Center

Ashley Whitman

Bluffton High

Katlyn McCormick

Bluffton Middle

Cathryn “Cat” Floyd

Broad River Elementary

Laura Boozer

Coosa Elementary

Marjorie Isley

H. E. McCracken Middle

Kristin Stevenson

Hilton Head Early Childhood Ctr.

Katie Carroll

Hilton Head High

Gerson BonillaMatamoros

Hilton Head International B. Elem.

Michelle Taylor*

Hilton Head Middle

James Waechter

Hilton Head School for the Creative Arts/Daufuskie Is.

Jennifer Backlund

Joseph S. Shanklin Elementary

Abbie Whitaker

Lady’s Island Elementary

Clayton Wynn

Lady’s Island Middle

Juvonna Chatman-Jenkins

May River High

Chelsi Klutch

Michael C. Riley Elementary/ECC

Sherri Westby

Mossy Oaks Elementary

Andrea Riley

Okatie Elementary

Megan DeWeese*

Port Royal Elementary

Felicia Horton

Pritchardville Elementary

Julie Markle*

Red Cedar Elementary

Stephanie Moldenhauer

Right Choices

Frank Palmieri

River Ridge Academy

Justine Vaitas

Robert Smalls International Academy

Violeta Magnus

St. Helena Elementary/Early Learning School

Shakira Grimes

Whale Branch Early College High

Sonia Perez-Roberson

Whale Branch Elementary/James Davis ECC

Willard Smith

Whale Branch Middle

Arsenio Toledo

Adult Ed

Garner Jones

*District Teacher of the Year Finalists