Horry County Special Education teacher named SC Teacher of the Y - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Horry County Special Education teacher named SC Teacher of the Year

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COLUMBIA, SC - Jennifer Ainsworth, Horry County Schools' Teacher of the Year, was named the South Carolina Teacher of the Year on  Wednesday night during a gala in Columbia.

Ainsworth, who is from McColl, was one of the top five finalists.

Ainsworth has spent her eight year career teaching Special Education at Socastee High School. She was inspired by her mom who was a substitute teacher as well as her volunteer work with the Special Olympics.

"When I volunteered for Special Olympics and working with adults with special needs, at that point I changed my major and I knew that special education was what I would want to do," Ainsworth told WBTW last week.

Thanks to her hard work and dedication the difference she has made in her student's lives led to her being a finalist for the state teacher of the year.

"With the students in our class from day one, they give you unconditional love and anybody that walks into our room will realize that they're going to take so much more away from our classroom," Ainsworth added.

Her students said they were confident she will be the winner because of the love she shows them everyday and how special she is to the class.

"This is an honor for all the teachers and staff that work with special kids everyday and it kind of showcases what we do and I'm extremely proud that it's brought special education to the forefront." Ainsworth said last week.

All the finalists went through personal interviews with a seven-member state selection committee. She and other finalists were selected from 81 school districts, the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Palmetto Unified School District, and the South Carolina Public Charter School District.

South Carolina's Teacher of the Year will receive a $25,000 cash award and a new BMW to use for one year. During the 2014-15 school year, he or she will also 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.

The other four finalists, known as Honor Roll teachers, will each receive $10,000. There will also be school district teachers of the year, and each of these educators will receive $1,000.

In addition to Ainsworth, other state finalists were: John "Jed" Dearybury, Woodland Heights Elementary School, Spartanburg School District 6; Rhonda Hudak, Rawlinson Road Middle School, Rock Hill School District 3; Patrick Kelly, Blythewood High School, Richland School District 2; and Vivian "Beth" Tuten, Swansea High School, Lexington School District 4.

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