School District Five Teacher Named SC Teacher of the Year
State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman, Lexington-Richland School District Five superintendent Dr. Christina Melton, and others surprised Sarah Gams at her home on Thursday (June 26) with news that she was selected as the 2021 South Carolina Teacher of the Year.
“The role of speaking on behalf of all South Carolina teachers and helping them navigate through the upcoming school year will require tremendous leadership," said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. “Sarah has shown throughout her career her ability to rise to the occasion and meet the needs of students wherever they are. She is most deserving of this honor and the attributes she possesses will be invaluable assets as she helps to lead our state and the teaching profession forward.”
Sarah Gams says a love for teaching and learning was probably embedded in her DNA from her parents who are both retired educators. With school as a second home, teaching was always her dream career. An avid reader and writer, Sarah majored in English at the Honors College of the University of South Carolina and earned her Master of Arts in Teaching. Sarah studied abroad at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where she discovered a passion for travel and the global classroom. Believing that multicultural experiences create global citizens, she partnered with Education First (EF) Tours in 2006 and has led nine student tours to Europe and other countries. She was a keynote speaker for EF in Paris, France. To share her love of reading and promote parental involvement, Sarah created Community Book Club to discuss books each month. Sarah earned National Board certification in 2007 and re-certified in 2017. Sarah currently serves as a cooperating teacher for student teachers. As an adjunct professor, Sarah teaches Young Adult Literature, English Methods in Education, and APEC Module 3, a graduate program for teacher certification. After sixteen years in the classroom, teaching middle school, high school, and graduate courses, Sarah still loves the teaching profession. She believes her greatest accomplishment is providing a strong foundation in literacy for her students to pursue personal and career goals. Through her active support of the next generation of teachers, Sarah makes a positive and long-lasting impact on the future of the education profession.
“We are beyond excited for Mrs. Gams and the entire School District Five community," said Lexington-Richland School District Five Superintendent Dr. Christina Melton. "At a time when education has been challenged and changed, Mrs. Gams represents the best of what teaching is in South Carolina. In Mrs. Gams, her students and peers have a champion and advocate who leads with passion and by example. Throughout her career, she has shown that the impact educators have on their students go beyond the school walls, and I know she will be an excellent ambassador for our field of public education. Congratulations, Mrs. Gams.”
As part of the state Teacher of the Year awards program, Sarah receives a total of $25,000 and is provided with a brand new BMW to use while serving for one year as a roving ambassador providing mentoring, attending speaking engagements, working with teacher cadets and teaching fellows, leading the State Teacher Forum, and serving as the state spokesperson for over 50,000 educators.
Sarah and the four finalists, or Honor Roll teachers, will be celebrated at the South Carolina Teacher of the Year Gala, which has been postponed and will be rescheduled for later this year.
Considered one of the country's strongest, the South Carolina Teacher of the Year program celebrates excellence and strengthens the teaching force by honoring and recognizing exceptional teachers on a district, state, and national level. These awards not only assist in retention efforts but serve as a powerful recruitment tool.