2017-09-28 / Front Page

Sandifer, Pilgrim, Deason honored as ‘Teacher of the Year’ selections


County Elementary School teacher Amanda Sandifer, Lincoln County Middle School teacher Susan Pilgrim, and Lincoln County High School teacher Debbie Deason were all named “Teacher of the Year,” and along with the title have been nominated for system-wide Teacher of the Year, which will be announced on October 5. County Elementary School teacher Amanda Sandifer, Lincoln County Middle School teacher Susan Pilgrim, and Lincoln County High School teacher Debbie Deason were all named “Teacher of the Year,” and along with the title have been nominated for system-wide Teacher of the Year, which will be announced on October 5. The annual selections for “Teach­er of the Year” have been announced by the Board of Education and in­clude Amanda Sandifer at Lincoln County Elementary School, Susan G. Pilgrim for Lincoln County Middle School, and Debbie Deason for Lincoln County High School.

“All I can say is wow, what an exceptional group these teachers are – all of them just bend over backwards for their kids,” Super­intendent Dr. Samuel Light said. “We really are blessed that we’ve continuously had a lot of great teachers in our system.”

Likewise, those awarded have been nominated for “Teacher of the Year” within the district. The hon­oree will be announced on October 5 at a special luncheon.

All three candidates have exem­plified a dedication to education and helping students succeed as they’ve invested their time, skills, and nurturing instruction into each child that enters their classrooms.

After attending Clemson Uni­versity and Georgia Southern University, Sandifer returned home to finish her Bachelor of Science degree in early childhood education at Augusta State University. Like­wise, she also received a Master of Education and an educational spe­cialist degree from Augusta State. Sandifer is gifted certified, and is a level one and level two Google Certified Educator.

“I believe that early childhood education should be centered around the child learning to love school. Once we hook them, we can create life-long learners. I try to create a fast paced, safe envi­ronment in which all children can learn and feel accepted,” Sandifer said. “I believe a huge part of my job is to make learning fun while creating those life-long learners. I think we as teachers should allow students to be kids while also be­ing academically challenged. I’m a firm believer that students should be taught on their level, based on their needs, but be exposed to all content to broaden their knowledge base.”

Sandifer is now entering into her 10th year as an educator, and her fourth year at Lincoln County Elementary School. Having taught fourth-grade math and science for over three years at LCES, she previ­ously taught at Washington-Wilkes Primary School for six years.

“I love teaching in Lincoln Coun­ty for many reasons. One reason is because it’s home to me – there’s something special about teaching fourth-graders in my own fourth- grade classroom. I like the con­nection I have with the students that comes with working and living in a small town,” she said. “Since it’s important that we integrate technology into instruction, we are fortunate to have a plethora of technology for our students in Lincoln County. My one-to-one classroom is one of my favorite things. Also, it’s a privilege to work alongside the people at LCES. I can honestly say they have the students’ best interests at heart and would do anything to help them succeed.”

Sandifer and her husband Brad are both educators, and have two sons, Whit, who is four-years-old, and Wes, age two.

Pilgrim has spent her entire 18 years as an educator at Lincoln County Middle School. She re­ceived an associate’s degree in business from Augusta College; a bachelor’s degree in middle grades education from Augusta State; a master’s degree in educational leadership from Troy State Uni­versity; and a specialist’s degree in teaching and learning also from Augusta State.

Highly qualified in language arts and social studies, Pilgrim also has professional certification in English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), and Teacher Support Spe­cialist (TSS).

“Teaching was a second career for me. After running my husband’s trucking business and being a stay- at-home mom, I decided to go back to college to pursue teaching,” Pil­grim explained. “My philosophy is simple – every student is different and has something special to make the world a better place. It is my job to help them find their strengths and get the best education available, so they can work toward success now and in the future.”

She and her husband Ronnie live in Thomson. They have two chil­dren, Mandy Steinhoff and Dustin Pilgrim, and are expecting their first grandchild in November.

Deason earned her Bachelor of Science degree in education from Lander University, and received her Master of Education, with an emphasis in special education, from Walden University. She has worked as a special education teacher in Lincoln County for 10 years.

While she’s spent the last eight years at Lincoln County High School, she worked at LCMS for two years prior to moving to the high school. The majority of Pilgrim’s teaching experience has been as a co-teacher in high school math classes.

Before coming to Lincoln Coun­ty, Deason taught at John de la Howe School in McCormick, S.C., and at Ninety Six High School in Ninety Six, S.C.

“I believe that it is important to help students grow in character as well as academically. Students need opportunities to discover their at­tributes and to reach goals in life,” she said. “When thinking about my views on teaching, I reflect on my favorite quote that reminds me of how we all need to treat the students that we teach – ‘The way we see people is the way we treat them, and the way we treat them is what they become,’ by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. I see each student as a success because that is what I want them to be.”

Deason and her husband Timmy have two daughters, Jade, who is a CICU nurse, and Jordyn, who is now a freshman at LCHS. Some of her favorite hobbies include kayaking, camping, and watching fast-pitch softball.

While this year’s nominees will be treated to a luncheon high­lighting their achievements, each Teacher of the Year will also be honored at next month’s meeting of the Lincoln County Board of Education, set for Tuesday, October 10, beginning at 7 p.m.

Return to top