Bluffton teacher picked as local teacher of the year

Erin Reichert

Erin Reichert, a Bluffton High School social studies teacher, has been selected as the new District Teacher of the Year for Beaufort County.

Here's the story from a release:

BEAUFORT – A teaching veteran who encourages her students to give back to their community was named today as Beaufort County’s 2012-2013 District Teacher of the Year.

The selection of Erin Reichert, who teaches social studies courses at Bluffton High School, was announced during a breakfast celebration to honor teachers of the year from all of the district’s schools.  Immediately afterward, Tom Ditzig of Hilton Head BMW presented Reichert with the keys to a 2013 BMW that the dealership is donating for her use over the coming year. 

Reichert has been at Bluffton High since 2007, teaching Advanced Placement U.S. History, Sociology, Youth in Government, Economics, U.S. Government.  Prior to coming to Bluffton, she taught for six years at Victor J. Andrew High School in Orland Hills, Ill.

At Bluffton High, more than 95 percent of Reichert’s Advanced Placement U.S. History students have passed the AP exam over the past three years, and annual enrollment in the course has grown from 21 students three years ago to 91 today.  She also has given presentations on best practices to teachers in the district. 

In addition to her successes in the classroom, Reichert has a passion for civic education that extends beyond the school’s walls.  She led the creation of Bluffton High’s Youth in Government program, in which students argue court cases, draft and debate legislation, learn parliamentary procedures, interact with politicians and shadow local government officials.

Under Reichert’s leadership, Bluffton High’s Youth in Government organization won the  Outstanding Delegation Award at the 2010 South Carolina Youth in Government YMCA High School Model Legislature and Court.  She also works with Model United Nations and is a Student Council sponsor. 

She and her students volunteer for community activities ranging from Mayfest and Relay for Life to the annual May River Clean-up.  In 2010, 70 of her students worked at local polling places.              

“Erin Reichert exemplifies the concept of a teacher-leader,” said District Superintendent Valerie Truesdale.  “Her students succeed academically in the classroom, and they are also inspired by her example to become responsible and productive citizens in their community.  Ms. Reichert’s commitment to growing youth leadership is a tremendous asset to Bluffton and to Beaufort County.”

Reichert has a Bachelor of Science degree from Eastern Illinois University and a Master’s Degree in school counseling and guidance from Lewis University.  She is currently working in the Political and Justice Studies Graduate Program at Governors State University.

Reichart will now represent Beaufort County in the South Carolina State Teacher of the Year program.  Finalists for the state program are announced in February. 

The other four finalists in the Beaufort County District Teacher of the Year program this year were, in alphabetical order:  Amy Fallon, who teaches math and science at Port Royal Elementary School; Hollis Lambert, a seventh-grade English Language Arts teacher at Beaufort Middle School; Angela Stewart, an eighth-grade science teacher at Whale Branch Middle School; and Jennifer Weitekamper, a social studies teacher at Hilton Head Island High School.

Becoming District Teacher of the Year is a three-step process that begins when school-level teachers of the year are selected in April by their peers.  Those wishing to compete for District Teacher of the Year submit detailed applications by the end of July.  Beaufort County’s applications are patterned after the Department of Education’s applications for State Teacher of the Year.  

In the second step, an eight-person selection committee consisting of parents, former educators, and leaders from all sections of county reviews the applications in August and rates them using a numerical scoring system.  The five highest-scoring applicants are named as finalists. 

In the third step, the finalists are interviewed by a separate review committee comprising six people from across the county.  Those panelists begin by reviewing videos of the teachers’ classroom lessons.  The judges then score candidates based on how well they respond to questions about their teaching methods as shown in the video, as well as how they respond to questions about current education issues.  After those interviews, the panel selects the District Teacher of the Year.

Twenty-four of the district’s 31 school-level teachers of the year submitted applications in this year’s district-wide program: 

  • Kimberly Fields, Beaufort Elementary
  • Teresa Baker, Beaufort High
  • Hollis Lambert, Beaufort Middle
  • Erin Reichert, Bluffton High
  • Leslie Natoli, Bluffton Middle
  • Abigail Mitchell, Coosa Elementary
  • Sebastian Rete, H.E. McCracken Middle
  • Elizabeth Sexson, Hilton Head Island Early Childhood Center
  • Jennifer Weitekamper, Hilton Head Island High
  • Melissa Ledbetter, Hilton Head Island Middle
  • Sandy Courtney, Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts
  • Kristin Brady, Lady’s Island Elementary
  • Lynn Colleen Jester, Lady’s Island Middle
  • Donna Lorenz, Michael C. Riley Elementary
  • Amy Dudley Edwards, Mossy Oaks Elementary
  • Amy Fallon, Port Royal Elementary
  • Stella Jackson, Okatie Elementary
  • Alvenice Swain-Mohead, Pritchardville Elementary
  • Mary Beth McKinney, Red Cedar Elementary
  • Carol Jackson, Roberts Smalls Middle
  • Samantha Ford, Shell Point Elementary
  • Sheryl Mack, St. Helena Elementary
  • Whitney Harris, Whale Branch Elementary
  • Angela Stewart, Whale Branch Middle

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