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Frye is 2018 KCSD Teacher of the Year

Posted: April 23, 2018 4:32 p.m.
Updated: April 24, 2018 1:00 a.m.
Martin L. Cahn/C-I

C-I WEB EXTRA: Kershaw County School District (KCSD) 2018 First Alternate Teacher of the Year Philip Double (center), a history teacher at North Central Middle School, accepts his award from KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan (left) and Kershaw County Board of School Trustees Chairman James Smith during Thursday night’s ceremonies at Camden High School.

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The biggest surprise Thursday night at Camden High School (CHS) wasn’t that Blaney Elementary School 4th Grade teacher Jessica Frye was named the Kershaw County School District’s (KCSD) 2018 Teacher of the Year.

After receiving her award and prizes, giving a short speech and leaving the stage, KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan announced there was one more piece of business. That piece of business came in the form of a special video of Mark Mason Jr., Lugoff Automotive Group’s general manager, who mentioned that Kershaw County is a finalist for the National Civic League’s 2018 All-America City Award.

“This is huge for our county and it wouldn’t be possible without a strong foundation that starts with a successful school system and, most importantly, dedicated and effective teachers like yourselves,” Mason said in the video. “As a business owner in Kershaw County, I can see on a daily basis the fruits of your labor. The Mason family, along with the entire Lugoff Automotive Group family would like to give a special recognition to Jessica Frye of Blaney Elementary School for winning this year’s Teacher of the Year. Thank you for all your hard work. In closing, our family would like to give a little gift of appreciation.”

Mason then revealed that Frye would be receiving the gift of one year’s lease on a brand-new Ford Mustang, sitting behind the CHS auditorium with a red ribbon on the hood waiting for her. Morgan then called Frye back up on stage along with KCSD Director of Operations Billy Smith, who handed her the keys to the car.

This is the first time in 10 years, since 2008, for a one-year lease on a new car to be part of the Teacher of the Year prize package.

Frye also received a special figurine, $50 from Thompson Logging, a special gift from State Rep. Laurie Slade Funderburk, a gift card from Pink Stable and the Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce, a free year’s membership to Fitness Zone, and a custom designed ring from Josten’s. Next spring, Frye will receive $1,000 as she competes for 2019’s S.C. Teacher of the Year.

Reading from the judges’ comments, Morgan said, “(Frye) impressed us with her energy and desire to have a classroom as a fun place to learn. She encourages student to think creatively, outside of the box, and shows real talent in grouping and working with young people so their learning styles are matched to the skills they are trying to master.”

During her short post-award speech, Frye said several people had asked her earlier in the evening if she was nervous. She said she initially was not, but upon being named said, “Now, that’s changed.”

Frye then quoted 2018 National Principal of the Year Dr. Akil E. Ross, of Chapin High School, who said, “The passion within us is the passion that drives us.”

“Teaching and watching students grow and learn is a huge passion of mine, so being named district Teacher of the Year is a huge honor,” Frye said. “I want to thank my family for the love and support of the endless teacher hours they have helped me with; for my colleagues for all their ideas and encouragement throughout this year; (and) for all of the administrators who have inspired me to be a better teacher. Finally, I’d like to congratulate Ms. (Matia) Goodwin, principal of the year, all of the first-year outstanding teachers and all of the teachers of the year. It is an honor to share this title with all of you this year.”

Frye began teaching in 2004 and has been at Blaney for eight years after having previously taught at Pine Tree Hill and Lugoff elementary schools. In a statement issued later Thursday night, Blaney Elementary Principal Ed Yount said Frye is one of the hardest working and most caring teachers at the school.

“She truly is a team player first,” Yount said in the press release. “She is willing to work with the most difficult students to help them succeed and begin to love school.”

That sentiment was echoed by one of Frye’s students, who, in a video message said Frye always has a good personality, comes around to any student who needs help and “always has your back.”

Frye was among the district’s five “Honor Roll” teachers of the year. From that group, the district named North Central Middle School (NCMS) history teacher Philip Double as first alternate. He would take over for Frye if, for some reason, she was unable to fulfill her obligations as teacher of the year. Double has taught for four years at NCMS and was named a KCSD Outstanding First Year Teacher finalist in 2014. He has served as NCMS’ head basketball coach and is the school’s assistant varsity baseball coach.

A rather humorous, yet potentially scary moment happened when Double dropped his award, made of cut crystal glass, causing the audience to laugh. While the glass came off its base, it did not shatter and Double rescued it before there could be any more harm to a round of applause.

The other three Honor Roll teachers for 2018 are Krystal Hayes, Baron DeKalb Elementary School; Katie Sullivan, Camden Elementary School; and Karen McAvoy, Lugoff-Elgin High School.

2017 KCSD Teacher of the Year Brooke Bradshaw, who assisted in introducing all of this year’s teachers of the year from each school, spoke about her experience as the district’s teacher representative.

Bradshaw said while some individual days have “dragged on,” the last year has “flown.”

“One word came to mind,” she said of her experience: “grateful,” to God, her husband (who listened to all her “crazy teacher talk and interesting reenactments”), and administrators at the Applied Technology Education Campus (ATEC).
“Simply put, I’m grateful for my school. ATEC is really a hidden gem; it’s a little slice of heaven right here in Kershaw County … and I encourage you to check it out, and I’m blessed to be a part of such a loving staff; blessed to get to work there every day and laugh and smile with my co-workers. As for my classroom this year I can say in all honesty that it’s been a doozy. I think they wanted me to earn my teacher of the year title.”

Bradshaw went on to say that when those “doozy” days hit, she was most grateful for her Teacher of the Year title.

“It provided me with assurance that, even on bad days, I could work towards a good goal. There’ve been days when I’ve hardly felt like a teacher, let alone teacher of the year,” she said. “I say all this so you can understand one thing: There will be good days and there will be bad days, but don’t let those bad days make you feel like you’re less of a teacher. And if you’re sitting out there, and you’re not a teacher -- maybe you’re an administrator or a relative, a loved one -- take the time to encourage teachers. Those encouraging words go a long way, more than you know.”

Bradshaw said there were definitely good days, starting from when she was named 2017 Teacher of the Year to all the Christmas parades she participated in, including a rather humorous turn in the Boykin Christmas Parade.

“My husband and I thought it would be fun to put the ‘spider truck’ in the parade. So, Billy Smith (who had driven Bradshaw in the other parades) took a break and was the videographer for the event. The announcers were so amazed at the size of the tractor they said, ‘Here we have the 2017 Kershaw County Tractor of the Year!’ Mr. Smith was quick to correct them,” Bradshaw said, introducing a clip showing the enormous size of the tractor during which Smith can be heard shouting at the announcers, “It’s the teacher of the year!”

Thursday night also saw Jackson Elementary School 5th Grade teacher Jonathan Hunt named 2018’s Outstanding First Year Teacher. The event also celebrated Jackson Principal Matia Goodwin recognition as the district’s Principal of the Year. The district named Goodwin as its top principal in early March.

The Kershaw County Teacher Forum, which co-sponsors the annual event with the district, named Whitley Kahler as its 2018 recipient of the Mary Ann Blaskowitz Scholarship. Whitley received a bronze statue along with the $1,500 scholarship.

Presenter Amy Goodwin said Whitley plans to attend North Greenville University in the fall, for which she is receiving a full scholarship. Goodwin said Whitley has a grade point average of more than 5.0 as an advanced placement and honors student at Camden High School, where she has been class president for three years. She said Whitley is also a member of the Beta Club, National Honors Society and Student Government Association. She was named the Volleyball Player of the Year in her division and played in the S.C. High School League’s All-Star Game. She is also a teacher cadet.

Thursday night’s program began with two selections from the North Central High and Middle Jazz band, under the direction of Jonas Nix.


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