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McDuffie's magnificent teachers: System's Teacher of the the Year to be named Tuesday

Cynthia P. Eller


Cynthia P. Eller
Photos by Jason B. Smith and Kristopher Wells
Dearing Elementary School social studies and science teacher

Background: She received her undergraduate degree from Shorter College in 1979 and her Masters from Augusta College in 1984. She taught in Coweta County, Ga., from 1979 until 1981, when she joined the faculty of Briarwood Academy. In 1983, she joined the McDuffie County school system and has taught until the present.

Quote about teaching philosophy: "Webster's Dictionary defines the word teach as providing instruction and applies to any manner of imparting information or skill so that others may learn. Effective teaching enhances a student's interest for acquiring the information or skill so that he may learn more effectively. Learning prepares students for a career by providing them with the basic and necessary skills they will need in order to become an independent, responsible citizen. If a student can link what he knows or has learned, then he will be able to apply that skill to everyday life. Students have different learning styles; therefore, they need to be provided with teaching strategies that will accommodate their styles of learning. Providing visual learners with pictures, books, posters, and graphic organizers encourages students to learn according to their modality. Auditory learners can easily learn skills by participating in class discussions, small group activities, and partner activities... I foster students' learning by providing the necessary tools the students need."

Sonya Scott Thomas


Sonya Scott Thomas
Photos by Jason B. Smith and Kristopher Wells
J.A. Maxwell Elementary School second grade language arts and math teacher

Background: She received her undergraduate degree from Armstrong Atlantic State University in 1996, and her Masters from Central Michigan University in 2002. She is currently working toward a specialist degree from Cambridge University. She has taught second grade at Maxwell since 1997.

Quote about teaching philosophy: "I believe that each child can learn more every day. With that belief in mind, I feel that it is my job to find the best way to make sure that each child in my class does learn... Students may come from different backgrounds, and have different learning abilities, but they all deserve a quality education. I believe that it is my responsibility to teach my children, not just teach subjects each day as I enter into my classroom. I realize that we have a curriculum to follow, but it is more important to teach the children. I try to challenge my students daily; therefore, I have high expectations for them. By pushing them to do their best, I feel that I am teaching them to have a positive self concept and to live up to their potential. I realize that I cannot control the environment that my students come from, but I can control my classroom environment; therefore, I try to make each day in my classroom a positive experience. I start on the first day of school establishing routines and setting expectations."

Susan McFadyen


Susan McFadyen
Photos by Jason B. Smith and Kristopher Wells
R.L. Norris Elementary School fourth grade reading and language arts teacher

Background: She received undergraduate degrees from Montreat-Anderson Jr. College and Presbyterian College in 1973 and 1975, and a Masters from Clemson University in 1981. She taught at Clinton High School in Laurens, SC from 1977 until 1979, when she joined the faculty of Batesburg-Leesville Middle School in Lexington, SC, until 1982. She taught at Saluda Elementary in Lexington, SC from 1982 until 1989, when she went to Varnel Elementary in Whitfield, Ga. She has been at Norris since 1989 teaching reading and language arts.

Quote about teaching philosophy: "I embrace and hope never to compromise the following principles: the belief that every child properly taught can learn and deserves the best education available. As a profession, when there is a job that needs to be done, I do it. I see myself as a teacher of all levels of ability. I believe it is important to be willing to move out of my comfort zone and consider it an opportunity to make a real difference in someone else's life and my own. I firmly believe all staffulty (custodians, teachers, administrators, counselors, secretaries, nurses, paraprofessionals and librarians) must work inclusively to successfully achieve our predetermined school goals."

Seymone Michelle Terrelonge


Seymone Michelle Terrelonge
Photos by Jason B. Smith and Kristopher Wells
Thomson Elementary School second grade language arts and math teacher

Background: She received her undergraduate degree from Augusta State University in 2002 and work on her Masters from Walden University is currently in progress. She has taught second grade language arts and math since 2002.

Quote about teaching philosophy: "Working with elementary school age students always brings a smile to my face. I enjoy my students' intuitiveness, their laughter, and most of all their fearlessness. It is my belief that in order to be an outstanding teacher, you should be motivated, innovative, and have a clear mission. It is our responsibility as educators to motivate and exhibit a positive attitude when working with these students day in and day out. Students learn by example. We should think about our actions. We should make sure that our actions exemplify the way we want our students to remember us and model the choices we hope they will make. An outstanding teacher goes outside of his/her comfort zone and is willing to try new innovative strategies when teaching."

Anita Davis


Anita Davis
Photos by Jason B. Smith and Kristopher Wells
Thomson Middle School science, reading and social studies teacher

Background: She received her undergraduate degree from Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield in 1975, and her Masters from Troy State University in Troy, Ala., in 2001. She has taught science, reading and social studies in McDuffie County from 1993 until the present.

Quote about teaching philosophy: "Being a teacher is more than holding class. It's about being clairvoyant. The ability to read faces, minds, and body language is a gift. Teachers must work diligently to hone this skill. Although success may be limited at times, giving up on thirty faces is not an option. I find this gift to be both a joy and a burden. As I stand in front of a class, scanning for clues, I am reminded that each day is different. Nothing stays the same. The students who yesterday seemed to understand everything we discussed, and volunteered insightful thoughts that enhance the concept being taught, now appear disengaged. Even though I may have had eye contact consistently with these folks yesterday, obviously some of them are now at the mall. Bringing them back is the joyful part and it makes me get up and go to work every day."

Marjorie Seckinger


Marjorie Seckinger
Photos by Jason B. Smith and Kristopher Wells
Thomson High School government, economics and geography teacher

Background: She received her undergraduate degree from the University of South Carolina in 1983, and her master's from Cambridge College in 2001. She taught U.S. history at Wade Hampton High School from 1987 until 1990, when she joined Holly Hill Middle School. In 1993 she moved to Fairfield Middle School in Winnsboro, SC, and then went to Crossroads Learning Center in McDuffie County from 1998 until 2003. She currently teaches government, economics and geography at Thomson High School.

Quote about teaching philosophy: "I believe that education is the heart and soul of our society. To illustrate my belief, you must be able to visualize a building with a roof, four pillars and a foundation. ...The first pillar represents government that organizes and enforces our laws. The second pillar represents the religious institutions that establish the values and beliefs of our community. The third pillar represents the family that nurtures the young and passes along cultural traits and the fourth pillar is for the economic system that provides an avenue for the exchange of goods and services. Any builder knows that the best built house (or society) must rest on a solid foundation. That foundation is education ... If we accept the idea that education is the foundation of our society, then we must also believe that educators are the bricklayers of that foundation."

Web posted on Thursday, October 28, 2004

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Updated: 04-Nov-2010 10:01


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