Columbia, S.C. – State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman surprised Satchel Ford Elementary teacher, Shawn Norris, today with news that he has been selected as one of five finalists for the South Carolina Teacher of the Year award.
“Shawn's dedication to promoting student health and well-being is evidenced in the programs and initiatives he has started at Satchel Ford that have since grown district wide, said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. "His ability to inspire students to be their best physically and academically makes Shawn a unique candidate for our state's highest teaching honor."
Superintendent Spearman and Richland One superintendent, Dr. Craig Witherspoon, joined Satchel Ford principal, Dr. Matt Scandrol, Norris, and other Satchel Ford teachers on a previously scheduled Zoom meeting to make the surprise announcement.
Shawn Norris is a kindergarten through fifth grade Physical Education teacher at Satchel Ford Elementary School in Richland County School District One. He received a bachelors in athletic training/physical education, a master's in physical education, and a master's in education administration from the University of South Carolina. Shawn is National Board of Professional Teaching, Physical Education certified and has been teaching for twenty years.
“Shawn Norris is a humble, caring person and an outstanding educator with a passion for working with kids and building meaningful relationships with them,” said Richland One superintendent Dr. Craig Witherspoon. “Through physical education, he not only teaches his students the importance of being healthy and physically fit, but he also imparts valuable life lessons like how to dream big and set high goals for themselves, not being afraid to make mistakes, doing their best in whatever they do and not giving up. Shawn has represented Richland One and our talented team of teachers with distinction this year as our Teacher of the Year, and we are excited and proud that he is being recognized at the state level. We believe he would be an excellent ambassador and advocate for teachers across the Palmetto State, and the entire Richland One family will be rooting for him in the state competition.”
While teaching in Richland One, concerned with the increasing obesity rates among school-aged children, he initiated two district wide programs – The Footprint Challenge and the District Fitness Bowl – aimed at increasing cardiovascular fitness among the school population and creating a healthier school culture as a whole. Shawn has received the Meritorious Program Award from the National Youth Sports Program as well as the DHEC All-Health Team & Gold Award. Shawn sees Physical Education as an ideal medium to impart critical life skills to his students. He employs cooperation and social responsibility activities in his instruction that enable students to tap into their potential and develop into confident, well-rounded, socially mature individuals. A struggling upbringing, which he shares with many of his students, and his abiding faith led him to his decision to become an educator. He believes that every child is born with unique talents and abilities and that teachers are vessels who help them uncover and maximize those abilities while gear them toward always expecting excellence.
As one of five finalists, Shawn will receive $10,000 and go on to the next stage of competition which involves an interview with a team of expert judges. The winner will be announced at the South Carolina Teacher of the Year Gala, which has been postponed and will be rescheduled for later this year.
The winner 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.
The Teacher of the Year program celebrates excellence and strengthens the teaching force by honoring and recognizing exceptional teachers on the district, state, and national level. The Teacher of the Year Awards not only assist in retention efforts but serve as a powerful recruitment tool to the educator profession.