We’re headed back to class. District 56 celebrates the start of a new school year last Wednesday with the opening convocation in the Clinton High Auditorium. The district honors the academic legacy of Sara Byars, 102-year-old retired Joanne Woodson Elementary School teacher, show with her daughter, Ginger Jacks. The faculty engages in a team-building exercise with Drum Cafe USA, and the district names Elizabeth Crowder, JWES special education teacher, as the 2020-21 Teacher of the Year. More coverage on Spotlight in today’s issue. - Photos by Vic MacDonald

Being sure “your shoes fit” is advice for teachers as the new year begins



When she encountered writer’s block, Caroline Hunt had a remedy - unpack boxes.

Her family spent the summer moving to a 90-acre homestead, and packing and unpacking boxes dominated their time. To the detriment of Hunt fulfilling an obligation - each District 56 Teacher of the Year makes a featured presentation to the faculty at the District Opening Convocation.

That time came for Hunt, the 2019-20 District 56 Teacher of the Year, on Aug. 14. Once when she was “blocked,” Hunt turned to boxes labeled “Shoes”. Her husband had work shoes and dress shoes; her son, age 10, had just one box; her young daughter, age 7, had some boxes including “cute shoes”; and Carolina herself had boxes of work, casual and miscellaneous shoes.

That unpacking, she said, “reminded me of our work.”

“Are your work shoes too big? Do you think everyone wants a piece of you?” she asked. “Is it time for you to leverage the strength of those around you?”

Focusing on “our students,” Hunt asked, “Are your shoes too small?”

She said, “We have a golden opportunity - to be open to the people around you who have the skills to help you on your journey. ... I have had an amazing career, and I am not done. Work on relationships - the person right in front of you right now.”

Hunt addressed the inevitability of change ‘ “Our feet grow. How does your shoe fit, and what will be your next step to finding the best fit?” 

Hunt is a first grade teacher at Clinton Elementary School, representing District 56 in SC Teacher of the Year meetings and competition for the 2019-20 academic year. Representing the district in the 2020-21 academic year will be Elizabeth Crowder, special education teacher at Joanna Woodson Elementary School. 

In his remarks to the assembled faculty, Superintendent Dr. David O’Shields focused on the life-long contributions of retired teacher Sara Byars.

She attending the convocation at age 102.

Reading Mrs. Byars’ biography - she began her career in 1940 - O’Shields also called on Joanna Woodson Principal Eddie Marshall - a student of Mrs. Byars’ in the first grade - and “Joanna Boy” Buddy Bridges for their personal remarks.

O’Shields said, “And now, can’t you see clearer now why #theexperiencematters? Where else can the most noble of professions run three generations deep with countless lives formed and shaped ... Teaching in general and teaching here in District 56 is when ‘The Experience Matters’ the most ... you never know what you will do to alter a child’s life, to correct a child’s direction, and leave a lasting impression.”

Also during the opening convocation, District 56 provided these special recognitions:

2019 Support Staff of the Year 

Reese Copeland - MSB

Courtney Lyda - CES and District Support Staff of the Year

Marsha Gann - EES

Idella Boyd- JWES

Tina Fulmer - CMS

Jo Webb - CHS Faculty Choice

Lois Booker - District Office Choice

2019 Rookie of the Year

Elizabeth Myers - EES

2020-2021 Teacher of the Year

Dana Harwell - MSB

Edith Ann Grant - CES

Katie Tyson - EES

Elizabeth Crowder - JWES and District Teacher of the Year

Carrie Thomas - CMS

Joanne Joppenhauer - CHS.


(MSB = MS Bailey Child Development Center; CES = Clinton Elementary School; EES = Eastside Elementary School; JWES = Joanna Woodson Elementary School; CMS = Clinton Middle School; CHS = Clinton High School.)

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