District Five names finalists for 2024-2025 Teacher of the Year

Lexington-Richland School District Five has named finalists for its 2024-2025 Teacher of the Year award. The finalists are: Rebecca “Becca” Magni, a Piney Woods Elementary School second-grade teacher; Alyssa Powers, an Oak Pointe Elementary School fifth-grade teacher; and Glenna Shealy, a Reading Interventionist at Dutch Fork Elementary School.

Magni has served at Piney Woods Elementary School since 2021. She began her teaching career in 2013. She received her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of South Carolina (USC) where she graduated Magna Cum Laude.

Magni decided to pursue teaching because of her lifelong love for children. When she was in first grade, she had an amazing teacher, Mrs. Campbell, who inspired her love for making learning fun and meaningful and for building relationships. This is her eleventh year teaching and she started with Piney Woods when it opened and says it has been the most rewarding experience.

“When I started at Piney Woods, it was a brand new school and we had to create a lot of things from scratch,” Magni said. “I really had no clue what all went into starting a school from the ground up, but was so fortunate to be a part of this process. I met with fellow staff members over the summer before school began to come up with our goals for Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) implementation. We knew that this was a district initiative, but it was so important to make it fit our school and our students. My role was to help come up with a slogan and acronym for the positive behavior intervention system. We decided to come up with “PMP” because this could stand for “Purple Martin Pride” and serve as an acronym for our expectations: “Personal Best,” “Making Responsible Choices,” and “Positivity.” Once we came up with these, we were able to create a matrix where we came up with schoolwide expectations throughout the school. We wanted students to do their personal best, make responsible choices, and show positivity anywhere they were in and outside of our school. This project has been used throughout the school day every day at Piney Woods from the first year and is still in use.”

Powers has served at Oak Pointe Elementary school since 2022. She also taught third grade for two years at Dutch Fork Elementary. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of South Carolina. This year, she will graduate from USC with her Master’s Degree in Language and Literacy, and complete her National Board Certification.

As a former School District Five student, Powers accredits her career in education to her influential teachers, including her mother, who took time to build and foster relationships with her and inspired her passion for working with children. These relationships helped form her identity as the person and teacher she is today.

“As a gifted and talented teacher, I challenge and encourage my students to take ownership of their learning,” Powers said. “My unit surrounding high-quality book discussions and questioning is a perfect representation of my beliefs. The unit was aligned with the fifth-grade ELA standard that students will “interact with others to explore ideas, communicate meaning, and develop logical interpretations through collaborative
conversations.” The goal of the unit was for students to lead thought-provoking small-group book discussions. My belief as an educator is that students need to drive their instruction. They
should be the ones talking, thinking, questioning, reflecting, and goal-setting.”

Shealy has worked at Dutch Fork Elementary School since 2018 as a reading interventionist. She has also served as the Reading Interventionist at Oak Pointe Elementary School, a second grade teacher at Red Bank Elementary School and a Curriculum Specialist and Assistant Administrator at New Heights School in Columbia. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education from Columbia College. She earned a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Columbia International University. She is a National Board Certified Teacher in Early and Middle Childhood/Literacy: Reading-Language Arts.

Shealy believes teaching is her calling. Early school experiences inspired the desire to teach young children and provide a safe space where students feel valued and loved. She became passionate about child development and best practices in her studies. Her first job at a Title One school shaped her path as an educator.

“My goal has always been to love and serve families in my Title 1 school by providing high quality literacy instruction to our most vulnerable readers and planning opportunities for parent, teacher, and student engagement,” Shealy said. “Developing relationships in each of those domains builds trust and a sense of belonging, which leads to a stronger school and community.”

Teacher of the Year winners from each school include: Jill Chapman (Academy For Success), Jim Doty (Adult Education), Kaylyn Edmondson (Ballentine Elementary), Michael Diaz (Center for Advanced Technical Studies), Leah Frick (Chapin Elementary), Robert Schiferl (Chapin High), Michelle Lanfear (Chapin Intermediate), Reggie Salazar (Chapin Middle), Todd Nelson (CrossRoads Intermediate), Glenna Shealy (Dutch Fork Elementary), Kelly Eckstrom (Dutch Fork High), Yvonne Baxter (Dutch Fork Middle), Gayle Whitlock (FIVE), April Session (H. E. Corley Elementary), Caroline Blevins (Harbison West Elementary), Amanda Parker (Irmo Elementary), Eric Coleman (Irmo High), Amanda Neel (Irmo Middle), Cait Kepler (Lake Murray Elementary), Chris Austin (Leaphart Elementary), Sherrell Blankenship-Brown (Nursery Road Elementary), Alyssa Powers (Oak Pointe Elementary), Rebecca “Becca” Magni (Piney Woods Elementary), Taylor Gepper (River Springs Elementary), Heather Brace (Seven Oaks Elementary), and Kellie Masone (Spring Hill High).

Superintendent Akil E. Ross, Sr. said, “Congratulations to our Teacher of the Year finalists and those who were selected by their peers to represent their school in our district! Our staff truly shares the vision that “We love and grow our students” and exemplify that in their classrooms. We are thankful to have the incredible talent and dedication of our teachers in School District Five and grateful for all they do to help our students be successful.”