All six of Pickens County's Teacher of the Year nominees are pictured here with their respective school principals. School Superintendent Dr. Carlton Wilson said of the nominees, that although they are considered Pickens County's "finest," they are also representative of the many fine teachers employed by the Pickens County School System. (L – R) Harmony Elementary Principal Marla Callahan with Caladie Duncan; Pickens Junior High Principal Chad Flatt with Claire Eubanks; Tate Elementary Principal Stephanie Hall with Matthew Gibson; Supt. Carlton Wilson; Amanda Jones with Hill City Elementary Principal Jennifer Halko; Andrew Krakeel with Jasper Middle Principal Corey Thompson; and Kyle Rasco with Pickens High Principal Chris Wallace.
By Larry Cavender
"I was overcome with joy and excitement, and shocked," was Caladie Duncan's reaction after she was named Pickens County Teacher of the Year at a banquet held Monday night, Oct. 21 at Chattahoochee Technical College. She added, "I have been greatly blessed and I am honored to be Pickens County's Teacher of the Year."
Now in her ninth year of teaching, Duncan says she believes education is about "creating a safe environment for students, fostering imagination and creativity, going the extra mile, and teaching through experiences." A special education teacher who has
spent her entire career at Harmony Elementary, Duncan also said she believes, "All children are capable of learning, but how they learn is her responsibility."
Duncan added, "Others influence us all in some way, but we also have the power to influence others. When people are influential, they are making an investment in you. It is important to do something positive with the investment others make. Be like a sunflower - stand tall and look for the sunshine each day."
When not in the classroom, Duncan enjoys crafting, singing, and someday hopes to travel to all 50 states. One of her greatest pastimes is "joining with her family to spread love and joy to others by preparing boxes of needed items for the Operation Christmas Child Project."
Duncan was chosen from among a total of six county-wide nominees. Other nominees were: Amanda Jones, a first-grade teacher at Hill City Elementary; Matthew Gibson, a second-grade teacher and 25-year veteran elementary teacher from Tate Elementary; Andrew Krakeel, a science and history teacher at Jasper Middle School; 17-year math teacher Claire Eubanks at Pickens Junior High School; and Kyle Rasco, an anatomy and sports medicine teacher at Pickens High School.
As she began her introductions, Pickens County's Director of Community Engagement, Destini Shope, said of the nominees, "As a group, these six teachers represent 85 years of teaching experience, 21 certification fields or endorsements, have attended 13 different colleges, and four of the six are graduates of Pickens County High School."
In addition to the announcement of Teacher of the Year at the banquet, Education Staff Solutions also named the Substitute Teacher of the Year. Larry Applewhite was chosen from a total of three candidates which also included Shona Chester and Blake Cooper.
The guest speaker for the program was Dr. Mark Wilson of the Education Leadership Group. Wilson, coincidentally, is a former teacher, coach, and administrator with Pickens County Schools, but with the Pickens school system of Easley, S.C. His very entertaining program, which was punctuated with humorous power point slides and videos, centered on the theme of teachers who "inspire, challenge, and care," and he invited members of the audience to share memories of their favorite teachers.
In comments he made at the banquet, Pickens Superintendent Dr. Carlton Wilson said of the six Teacher of the Year nominees, that although they are considered Pickens County's "finest," they also are representative of the many fine teachers employed by the Pickens County School System.