Lexington-Richland School District Five has named finalists for its 2022-2023 Teacher of the Year award. The finalists are: Robin Amick, a Dutch Fork High School Engineering teacher; Sara Kimberlin, a Chapin High School English teacher; and Elisa Westfall, a CrossRoads Intermediate School English teacher.
Amick has served at Dutch Fork High School since 2019. She began her teaching career in 1993. She received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Lander University, a master’s degree in Educational Administration from the University of South Carolina (UofSC), and a master’s degree in Divergent Learning from Columbia College. Amick is currently a doctoral candidate at UofSC in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on Educational Technology to be completed in December 2022.
Amick decided to become a teacher because of her high school chemistry and physics teacher, Mrs. Traynham. She witnessed her teacher encourage and reach students struggling to understand concepts and the joy of the “aha” moment. Amick has strived to be the teacher she saw in Mrs. Traynham and instill the love of learning that she felt due to being in her classroom.
“As an educator, I practice what I preach to my students,” Amick said. “I am continually improving my technical skills by learning new engineering skills, coding languages, and learning hands-on trades that I can share in my classroom. I expose them to the interconnectedness and equal importance of the planners (engineers) and those conducting the physical labor (tradespeople). I often use both my son, who has a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and my son-in-law, who has an associate’s degree in Building and Construction Science, as examples. The examples I provide and the example I set for them reinforce the personal and professional value I see in technical education. I want my students to reach their full potential and want them to see the variety of pathways to get there.”
Kimberlin has served at Chapin High School since 2005. She also taught at Edisto High School, and was a graduate instructor at the UofSC and the University of Toledo. Additionally, she was an adjunct instructor at Midlands Technical College from 2003-2016, teaching English 101 and 102. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Education and master’s degree in English from the University of Toledo. She became National Board Certified in 2009, renewing in 2018.
Kimberlin’s motivation to teach is sharing her love of literature and writing with her students, and helping them rise to their greatest potential in high school and beyond, just as her teachers always helped and inspired her.
“Though I may not be lucky enough to have children of my own, I am a dedicated “teacher mom” to students in need,” Kimberlin said. “I see students who are economically or socially marginalized and try to build their confidence and be their resource and advocate, both in and outside of school. I try to be what Mr. Rogers would call “the helper” in each student’s community. I show them possibilities exist in their lives far greater than they might believe. My classroom is a community where students, past and present, know they are cared for and safe, and that I will do everything in my power to help them succeed.”
Westfall has worked at CrossRoads Intermediate School since 1999. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College where she was a double major in Elementary Education and Theater. She also earned her master’s in education from Columbia College in elementary education. She earned and renewed her National Board Certification in Early Adolescence/English Language Arts while also being highly qualified in Gifted and Middle Level Instruction.
A combined love of acting and education led Westfall to become a teacher. She saw a need to add a dramatic flair to instruction to help all students who may learn in a variety of ways to include the arts, drama, and differentiated instruction based on her students’ academic needs.
“Walk into my classroom and you will find bright colors, anchor charts, and books,” Westfall said. “I have them on shelves, in the window sill, on my desk and ledges, and in milk crates all around my room. I gather books from my state money, thrift stores, library sales, and I even recently became a bookseller at a local bookstore where I use my employee discount to purchase books for my students. I teach regular mini lessons that include why reading is important, how to find the “just right book”, using context clues to figure out unfamiliar words, exploration of new genres, goal setting, reading strategies, and discovering the students as readers. Students get exposed to a wide variety of genres, characters, conflicts, and settings to entice them to read past the first page. My students understand that my room is a place where reading is valued.”
Teacher of the Year winners from each school include: Kim Ferguson (Adult Education), Michelle Millard (Academy For Success), Dawn LaRosa (Ballentine Elementary), Wes Watts (Center for Advanced Technical Studies), Sam Werts (Chapin Elementary), Sue Knowles (Dutch Fork Elementary), Sarah Leverett (FIVE), Brandi Floyd-Francis (H. E. Corley Elementary), Mary Ashley Kimrey (Harbison West Elementary), Patricia Meek (Irmo Elementary), Ashley Zeigler (Lake Murray Elementary), Codie Wright (Leaphart Elementary), Adrienne Jennings (Nursery Road Elementary), Elizabeth Meadows (Oak Pointe Elementary), Brian Mincel (Piney Woods Elementary), Sharon Giordano (River Springs Elementary), Emily Langston (Seven Oaks Elementary), Maria LeMoine (Chapin Intermediate), Elisa Westfall (CrossRoads Intermediate), Sarah Dukes (Chapin Middle), Keri Meredith (Dutch Fork Middle), Allison Mixon (Irmo Middle), Sara Kimberlin (Chapin High), Robin Amick (Dutch Fork High), Colleen Marcou (Irmo High) and Diana Penning (Spring Hill High).
“Congratulations to our Teacher of the Year finalists and those who were selected by their peers to represent their school in our district,” Superintendent Akil E. Ross, Sr. said. “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.”