Lexington, SC 04/03/2023 - Lexington County School District One proudly recently named Lake Murray Elementary’s Katherine (Katy) J. Handell its District Teacher of the Year at the annual Teacher of the Year Celebration, honoring outstanding teachers who exemplify a commitment and dedication to educating students. Handell, a special education teacher, now goes on to compete in next year’s state-level Teacher of the Year program.
The district’s Teacher of the Year celebration was held on Thursday, March 30, 2023, at 6:30 P.M. at the Performing Arts Center at Lexington High School.
Being a teacher has been Handell’s dream since she was a small child, and now, she uses her passion to provide her preschool students the tools they need to be successful. She also works tirelessly to promote the inclusion of children with disabilities in her classroom, school and beyond. Jennifer Stanley, Lake Murray Elementary’s principal said, “Katy Handell has a heart for education and the students she serves.”
An educator for 15 years, Handell earned a Bachelor of Arts in special education, early childhood education and elementary education from Erskine College and a Master of Education in severe and multiple disabilities from University of South Carolina. She is also a board-certified behavior analyst.
As part of the selection process, all 31 school-level Teachers of the Year completed a written application form.
Since the district currently has 17 elementary schools, eight middle schools, five high schools and one technology center, three teams of elementary school-level judges, one team of middle school-level judges and one team of high school-level judges used an established rubric to read and score application forms.
The two school-level TOYs with the highest scores from each team became the Top 10 Finalists. There are six elementary school finalists, two middle school finalists and two high school finalists.
This year’s Top 10 finalists include Carolina Springs Elementary School Gifted and Talented Teacher Dr. Tamela D. Jett, Gilbert Elementary School Counselor Mackenzie D. Hall, Lake Murray Elementary School Special Education Teacher Katherine J. Handell, Lexington Elementary School Third Grade Teacher Erin K. McMillan, Lexington High School English Teacher Megan G. Small, Meadow Glen Middle School English Language Arts Teacher Trudie Montgomery, New Providence Elementary School STEAM Teacher C. Andrew Brooks, Pleasant Hill Middle School Drama Teacher Lori L. McKelvey, Saxe Gotha Elementary School Special Education Teacher Kimberly A. Lewis and White Knoll High School Chorus Teacher Cheryl B. Felder.
In addition, this year’s school-level honorees included Beechwood Middle’s Jason E. McCullough, Carolina Springs Middle’s Sarah B. Jorgenson; Centerville Elementary’s Crystal B. Mills, Deerfield Elementary’s Brian A. French, Forts Pond Elementary’s Jennifer M. White, Gilbert High’s Liza L. Wills, Gilbert Middle’s C. Alexander Bedenbaugh, Lakeside Middle’s Tiffany Fields, Lexington Technology Center’s Antonio M. Ferreira, Meadow Glen Elementary’s Neil P. Nadkarni, Midway Elementary’s Hope J. Lloyd, Oak Grove Elementary’s Harley F. Shelton, Pelion Elementary’s Casey D. Hill, Pelion High’s Anne E. Randall-Fulmer, Pelion Middle’s Christopher K. Johnson, Pleasant Hill Elementary’s Jennifer H. Taylor, Red Bank Elementary’s Maria Jose Sabillon Andonie, River Bluff High’s J. Ben Watson, Rocky Creek Elementary’s Paula R. Langdale, White Knoll Elementary’s Rhonda M. Sheldon, and White Knoll Middle’s Suzette M. Hawkins.