PICKENS COUNTY—After being awarded one of the highest honors a teacher can receive, Pickens Elementary’s Darleen Sutton said she is excited for what lies ahead.
Sutton, a first grade teacher, was recently named the 2013-2014 South Carolina Teacher of the Year at an awards ceremony in Columbia on May 1.
Sutton said it is going to be an honor representing her hometown in the days ahead.
“The first thing I thought when they announced the award was the incredible journey that’s ahead of me, representing the teachers across South Carolina, and the privilege I have to represent teachers across Pickens County,” Sutton said.
Senator Larry Martin (Pickens-R) said he thought Sutton had a shot all along.
“I felt all along that Darleen had an excellent opportunity to win it,” Martin said. “But, my jaw dropped when her name was announced. It was just an outstanding celebration. Her recognition was the high point and she was so excited and so gracious with her comments.”
School District of Pickens County officials say they could not be more proud.
“I am so proud that Darleen was recognized as South Carolina’s Teacher of the Year,” Pickens County Superintendent Dr. Kelly Pew said. “She will represent the excellence of Pickens County and South Carolina’s public educators. She is a wonderful teacher to her students and mentor to her colleagues. I am honored to know her and to have had the opportunity to work with her in Pickens County.”
All five finalists were chosen by a panel of educators and private citizens with no connections to the South Carolina Department of Education. The names of the teachers and their schools were concealed from the judges during the selection process.
“Now I get to go to a national conference to meet more teachers from across the nation who are passionate about their students,” Sutton said. “I can’t wait to get back to share what I’ve learned with the teachers in South Carolina and, specifically, Pickens County.”
During the 2013-14 school year, the Teacher of the Year will participate in a one-year residency program at the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement (CERRA) and will serve as a statewide ambassador for the profession.
On Thursday, Sutton was recognized for her accomplishment by Governor Nikki Haley at the State House.
“We were just so very proud to introduce her at the State House,” Martin said. “It is such a great accomplishment, not only for her, but for the School District of Pickens County.”
The price for the award is $25,000 and a BMW X3 to drive for a year. Sutton was back in the classroom Friday morning.
“(Sutton) is a tremendous ambassador for our school district,” Martin said. “I’ve been to her classroom, I know what kind of teacher she is and I know a lot of the children there in Pickens that she has taught. My wife has actually taught her two children at Pickens Middle and they’re just a great family. We’re just so pleased and thrilled for her and the school district.”