The Spartanburg Science Center celebrated 45 years of STEM Enrichment in Spartanburg County at the Chapman Cultural Center last night with the Inaugural STEM Educator of the Year Awards, a flagship program launched by the Science Center in 2023 celebrating the creativity, perseverance, and fortitude of our K-12 public school educators in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
“As part of our 45th Anniversary, the Spartanburg Science Center is thrilled to launch the inaugural Spartanburg STEM Educator of the Year Awards,” stated Mary Levens, Executive Director of the Spartanburg Science Center. “As a former public school science teacher who worked in Spartanburg County for over 40 years, I understand how challenging this role can be. This award is for teachers who are making a significant difference in the lives of students across the county by providing excellent curriculum, encouraging lifelong learning, and inspiring a passion for STEM beyond the classroom.”
Educators were nominated by peers, administrators, students and community members this past Spring, and a blind judging process took place over the summer with representatives from Milliken, Contec, Park National Bank, Wofford and Converse. The seven finalists received a check for $2,500 and professional development opportunities from the Center, and the countywide winner, Kelly Jewett, received an additional $2,500.
“I’m truly humbled to be the inaugural STEM Educator of the Year for Spartanburg County. As the Project Lead the Way Biomedical Science Teacher at Byrnes, I get to wake up every day and do a job I love, engaging and educating students around real world skills like diagnostic testing for medical offices, a career they can pursue right here in Spartanburg, “ said Jewett. “And with this platform, I look forward to helping the next generation of STEM Educators in Spartanburg. We have to focus on recruiting and retaining educators, including alternatively certified STEM teachers to combat the tremendous teacher shortage in South Carolina.”
2023 STEM Educator of the Year Finalists include:
District 1: – Rhonda Henson, Holly Springs Motlow Elementary
District 2: – Tara Burgess, Rainbow Lake Middle School
District 3: – Tonya McCullough, Cannons Elementary School
District 4: – Kelly Dixon, Woodruff High School
District 5: – Kelly Jewett, James F. Byrnes High School
District 6: – Kayla Short, Fairforest Middle School
District 7: – Susan Turner, Spartanburg High School
In addition to the STEM Educator of the Year Awards, the Science Center honored community partners, students and individuals during the evening. Contec Inc. CEO Jack McBride was presented with the 2023 Corporate Partner of the Year for their support of the Science Center during the pandemic, a partnership that has grown into the launch of the Contec Media Center and a classroom for 3-5 year olds.
“Contec is proud to support the Spartanburg Science Center and we would like to thank all the STEM educators in Spartanburg county. Their students will become the STEM workforce of the future which is critical to the future prosperity of both South Carolina and America.”
2023 Corporate Partner of the Year- Jack McBride & Contec inc.
2023 John F. Green Award for Student Excellence in STEM – Eowyn Connor
2023 Community Partner of the Year – Kids Club Upstate
2023 Educational Partner of the Year – Spartanburg Downtown Airport, SCAP Program
2023 Outstanding Individual Partner of the Year – Jeff Young, Hub City Robotics Coach
About the Spartanburg Science Center
For 45 years The John F. Green Spartanburg Science Center has remained the premier STEM educational resource for educators, parents and students in Spartanburg County. The Center and its staff strives to inspire excitement for science through interactive exhibits, live animals and hands-on programs at an affordable cost. During a typical year the Science Center team conducts over 500 educational programs, which serve more than 20,000+ children in all seven school districts in Spartanburg County. The Center supports STEM learning for students, teachers, and after school clubs. Learn more at spartanburgscience center.org.