Amy McAllister-Skinner: S.C. Teacher of the Year
--By Brian Druckenmiller
The first week of May 2012 was one that Amy McAllister-Skinner will never forget. She crossed the stage at CCU’s commencement ceremony on May 5 with an overwhelming sense of accomplishment, shaking hands with President David DeCenzo on completion of her master’s degree in education.
And five days earlier, on May 1, she marched down Lincoln Street in Columbia, joined by more than 80 other Palmetto State teachers who were nominated for the 2012-2013 South Carolina Teacher of the Year award. The celebration continued into the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center where she was presented with the award.
“I just sat there dumbfounded,” she said. “While I was already honored to be my school and district’s Teacher of the Year and to be one of the top five finalists for state, I wasn’t prepared to hear my name. It took about a week for it to sink in!”
McAllister-Skinner represented Johnsonville High School in Florence District 5, where she teaches 11th-grade English. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Francis Marion University in Florence. While teaching, she took classes at CCU to earn her master’s degree in education with a focus on literacy.
“The master’s program at Coastal really made me question why I was teaching literature that my students didn’t enjoy and made me rethink what I wanted them to gain from reading,” said McAllister-Skinner. “I started talking to my students about what I was reading and what they were reading, and it just ignited.”
Her success is not solely based on what happens in the classroom; McAllister-Skinner is present in her students’ personal lives as well, attending their ball games, performances and other events outside of school, including emotional events such as funerals, surgeries and births.
“I want them to know that their lives matter to me,” said McAllister-Skinner. “If my students don’t believe I care about them, why would they ever care about what I’m trying to teach them?”
For Teacher of the Year honors, McAllister-Skinner received a $25,000 prize and a year lease on a new 2012 Alpine White BMW X3. During the 2012-2013 school year, she is taking a sabbatical from her teaching duties to visit schools across the state and promote positive teaching practices
“Teaching is not an easy job by any means. It is long hours and sleepless nights sometimes, but it is the most rewarding job there is if your heart’s in the right place.”