District Five teacher named 2021 Green Outstanding Educator of the Year

Leaphart Elementary School STEAM Magnet first grade teacher, Sarah Guffey, has been selected as the 2021 Green Outstanding Educator of the Year by Keep the Midlands Beautiful.

The award is given annually to recognize an individual in Richland County, Lexington County, or in the City of Columbia who facilitates learning opportunities; raises awareness inside or outside the classroom and inspires, educates, or enforces a “greener” lifestyle.

Guffey has partnered with Keep the Midlands Beautiful for the past two years to collect shoes for their annual shoe drive. Thanks to Guffey’s leadership, Leaphart Elementary students and staff collected 250 pairs of shoes for the project.

“I am so honored to receive the Green Outstanding Educator of the Year award,” Guffey said. “Receiving this award is so important, because our mission at Leaphart Elementary STEAM Magnet is that all learners discover ways to solve problems, design solutions through an investigative process, and develop the skills needed for future success. Partnering with Keep the Midlands Beautiful has allowed our first-grade service project to turn into a green living movement. The shoe drive has helped students to understand the importance of a green lifestyle. By organizing the collection and donation of shoes, students have learned about their contributions to the economic impact to the micro-entrepreneurs that the program supports. I am so proud of the students, faculty, and community members that have participated in our annual shoe drive. They have helped reduce pollution and increased our sustainability by keeping shoes out of our landfills.”

Guffey has been teaching for 13 years, the last nine years have been at Leaphart Elementary School. She earned her bachelor’s of arts degree in elementary education from King University.

“Ms. Guffey is an exceptional educator who is always seeking meaningful ways to engage her students in the classroom and beyond,” Leaphart Elementary School Principal Courtney Sims said. “Along with the state standards, she is teaching her students to be service-minded and kind to the Earth. Through the lens of STEAM, Ms. Guffey is teaching our next generation of green engineers. She is so deserving of this honor and her LES family couldn’t be more proud!”

Keep the Midlands Beautiful was established in 1989 as an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful to serve Richland and Lexington Counties. The mission of Keep the Midlands Beautiful is to engage, inspire and educate the Midlands to invest in the community through litter prevention, recycling and beautification.