District 56 Announces Teacher of the Year and Support Staff Person of the Year

August 17, 2022

There is an excitement about the start of a new year. Teachers, faculty, and staff are energized and ready to make a difference in the lives of the students.  It’s also a great time to acknowledge those who are recognized by their peers for that “something special” they bring to their role.

Laurens County School District 56 recently announced their Teacher of the Year and Support Staff of the year.

For teacher of the year, each school selects a teacher to be considered. The teacher is selected by vote of the teachers in the school. Then District 56 has a committee of retired teachers, community leaders and parents who interview each school’s teacher of the year.  The committee then recommends the person to be named teacher of the year.

This year’s Teacher of the Year is Olivia Craven Gardner, a teacher at Clinton Middle School. Gardner teaches 8thgrade Science.  Gardner is a product of the local schools and a graduate of Presbyterian College.

As teacher of the year, Gardner will and her qualifications will be submitted to the South Carolina Department of Education to compete for State Teacher of the Year.

“We are so honored to have one of our former students now serve as our district teacher of the year,” said District 56 Superintendent David O’Shields. “Olivia Gardner represents the very best qualities we seek in our teachers in Laurens County School District 56. She has enthusiasm, expertise, and energy to get the very best from her middle school students.”

The Support Staff of the year award is selected in a similar process. Each school chooses a support staff of the year, with voting from the school’s staff. The district office then sends the support staff winner from each school five questions to be answered. A committee reviews the written responses and recommends a district support staff person of the year.

This year’s Support Staff Person of the Year is Donna Davis. Davis works as an aide at Eastside Elementary School, as an aide in a 5k classroom.  Like Gardner, Davis is also someone who attended District 56 schools as a child.

“Donna Davis is the perfect choice for Support Staff of the Year.” Said O’Shields. “She displays patience, poise, and a deep love for the children she serves. She sees the beauty in all children.”

The support staff of the year award is something District 56 started about five years ago. They felt it was important to acknowledge the dedication and contributions that they make in the education of our children.

In the photo (left to right): Jeff Parks-Principal of Clinton Middle School, Olivia Gardner-Teacher of the Year, Donna Davis-Support Staff of the Year, Tanya Wilson-Principal Eastside Elementary School, and Dr. David O’Shields- Superintendent.