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Leininger is 2013 KCSD Teacher of the Year

Posted: May 2, 2013 5:28 p.m.
Updated: May 3, 2013 5:00 a.m.
Miciah Bennett/C-I

The KCSD Teacher of the Year is selected from a group of five Honor Roll teachers, selected as finalists for the district award. Pictured here (left to right) are KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan; Wateree Elementary School’s Phyllis Cleveland; North Central Middle School’s Brian Leininger; Lugoff-Elgin High’s Shannon Team; Camden High’s Meredith Kirkland; Camden Elementary School’s Alana Powers; Kershaw County School Board of School Trustees Vice-Chair Kim Horton Durant; and Chair Mara Jones.

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North Central Middle School (NCMS) teacher Brian Leininger is the Kershaw County School District’s 2013 Teacher of the Year (TOY), selected at the district’s annual gala Monday evening.

KCSD teachers, administration and community members attended the gala, held at Camden High School (CHS), to celebrate all of the KCSD teachers chosen to represent each of the district’s 20 schools, plus a teacher from the Special Education Activities Geared for Unique Learning (SEAGUL) program.   

The district named Camden Elementary School (CES) fourth-grade teacher Alana Powers as 2013 TOY first alternate. Leininger and Powers were selected from a pool of five KCSD Honor Roll teachers, who were also honored at the gala. The Honor Roll teachers included Meredith Kirkland, of CHS; Shannon Team, of Lugoff-Elgin High School (L-EHS); and Phyllis Cleveland, of Wateree Elementary School (WES). KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan said the Honor Roll teachers were significant due to the fact that they were chosen from across the district.

Leininger has been teaching social studies at NCMS since 2008. Originally from Pennsylvania, Leininger earned his bachelor’s degree in social studies from Pennsylvania State University and a master’s in divergent learning from Columbia College. Before being named the 2013 KCSD TOY, Leininger was described as a “great motivator,” “risk taker” and a “born leader who has a heart for kids.”

Leininger said the win was more for NCMS than himself.

“I was just the right person at the right time,” he said. “The faculty and staff of NCMS have been with me every single step of the way.”

Leininger said he would like to enlighten communities on the changing roles of teachers in today’s educational system. The “pivotal role” teachers play can have a severe impact on student lives, he said. Leininger said he is proud to represent NCMS and the district with the highest level of professionalism possible.

What’s his motivation?

“My primary goal as an educator is to impact every student that walks into my classroom. I want to be able to focus on the type of person my student is beyond the classroom setting, and help them to reach their greatest potential,” Leininger said. “This means nurturing interests that may not fall in my area of study, in the hope that every student will follow a path from my classroom that will eventually lead to a high school stage in their senior year with a diploma in their hand. We can long point fingers at the old clichés, but it is hauntingly true how great an effect teachers have on ‘molding the future of our generations.’”

NCMS principal Burch Richardson said Leininger is a caring, enthusiastic and inspiring teacher.

“He instills his love of history to his students with his innovative instructional strategies. He makes history come alive for his students through his lectures, role play and the integration of technology in his classes. His creative spirit, along with his commitment to his students, enable him to have the respect of his students, their parents and his colleagues,” Richardson said.

WES third-grade teacher Chrystal Barker was selected as the Outstanding First Year Teacher out of three first-year honor roll teachers including Lugoff Elementary Schools’ (LES) Ashley Gardner and L-EHS’ Lauren Thompson. District officials noted during the gala that under Barker’s leadership, students who previously tested under the 50th percentile in math, language and reading on MAP tests are now at or above the 50th percentile mark in the same subjects. Barker is a graduate of Lander University.

Baron DeKalb Elementary School (BDK) Principal Betty Turner was honored as KCSD Principal of the Year. BDK recently received the South Carolina School Improvement Council’s Dick and Tunky Riley Award, an Exemplary Writing Award and named a Red Carpet School. Turner was selected as the Kershaw County Reading Administrator of the Year this year and is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and the University of North Carolina - Charlotte.

Nicole Schnibben was the 2012 KCSD TOY; David Pollock, of NCMS was the 2012 KCSD TOY alternate.

2013 Teachers of the Year: Rebecca Teal,  Applied Technology Education Campus; Patty Boone, BDK;  Johnnie Walker, Bethune Elementary School; Vickie Anderson, Blaney Elementary School; Alana Powers, Camden Elementary School; Meredith Kirkland, CHS; Elizabeth Cassidy, Camden Middle School; Frances Raab, Continuous Learning Center; Judi Mills, Doby’s Mill Elementary School; Markeita Warren, Jackson School; Libby Stillwell, Stover Middle School;  Brantley Davidson, Lugoff Elementary School; Shannon Team, L-EHS; Gayle Todd, Lugoff-Elgin Middle School; Faith Amick, Midway Elementary School; Melissa Gandy, Mt. Pisgah Elementary School; Cindy Hingle, North Central High School; Brian Leininger, NCMS; Nicole Ritchie, Pine Tree Hill Elementary School; Martha Gantt, SEAGUL;  and Phyllis Cleveland, WES.

Mary Ann Blaskowitz Education Scholarship: Brad Brazell. Brazell is a L-EHS student active in band, Beta Club, National Honor Society, Student Council and has been on several missions trips. Brazell is a 2013 Upchurch & Jowers All-County Academic Team member.

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