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Featured Smile Scholar Bios

Nicole Gilbert

I am a tenth year teacher and I have taught both fourth and sixth grades. My absolute favorite thing to teach is sixth grade Math and Science. I have so much fun coming up with new ways to teach my students new concepts and prepare them not only for seventh grade, but life. I enjoy incorporating as many real-life applications of Math and Science as I can. This year I'm privileged to be teaching single-gender girls. I enjoy the experience each and every day. My goal as a teacher is inspire my students to believe in themselves and their ability to do anything they put their mind to. I am also the mother of a six year old little boy who is full of energy and curiosity. My plate is always overflowing and I enjoy it that way.


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Kitty Tripp

I am very excited to be in my fourteenth year of teaching, and I have a wide variety of teaching experience in grades second through fifth. I began my teaching career in private school, but the majority of my teaching experience has been in public school. When I was in elementary school, my fifth grade teacher brought learning alive through singing, interactive activities, and her passion for teaching. I grew up always wanting to be like her, and today, I know I've succeeded in creating that same endearing classroom environment for my own students. In the last five years, I accomplished my goals of becoming National Board Certified and receiving my master and +30 in integrating technology into the classroom. I love teaching especially when it involves using any type of technology like Skype, blogging, and multimedia presentations! My passion for teaching lies in using technology to prepare my students to effectively think, problem solve, and communicate with a global audience.


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Jodi Cowart

Without a doubt, being in the classroom is where this southern girl belongs. For the past decade I have enjoyed the phenomenal opportunity of working with elementary students and their families all across the Upstate. I stepped into the classroom later than most as I worked in business for ten years prior to earning my Masters in Education from Converse College. I completed my student teaching and first several years of classroom teaching at Berry Shoals Intermediate in Duncan, South Carolina, which is part of the Spartanburg School District Five family. There I taught fourth grade, starting with two years of self-contained teaching and then four years of team teaching where I was responsible for the Reading, Language Arts and Social Studies content for my two-person team. During my time at Berry Shoals, I earned my National Board Certification in Literacy and my Gifted Endorsement. About four years ago, the district began realigning their elementary and intermediate schools, at which time, I chose to take a position closer to home. I then became part of the Anderson District One family. I taught fourth grade for three years at Powdersville Elementary in Powdersville, South Carolina, where my daily focus was on teach Reading and Language Arts. My passion is reading and sharing that passion with my students. I love the challenge of meeting a student in August who hates to read and having them begging for more SSR time each day by the month of October. The Lord blessed my husband, Mark, and I with a healthy and vibrant little boy, Myles, in December of 2009. I am currently teaching fourth and fifth grade gifted classes on a part time basis, which allows me to enjoy my husband of four years and my two year old little boy. Though I miss being with my students all day long and seeing their excitement about learning every day of the week, I feel more than blessed to be able to focus on my family during this very important and short stage in life. I feel as though I have come full circle in a sense as I am enjoying the best teaching job in the world, that of teacher mommy and allowing this "new position" to continue to grow me into the best classroom teacher yet.


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Jessica Thomas

I am a 5th grade Reading and ELA teacher at Powdersville Elementary School in upstate South Carolina. I am proud to say that my school is a National Blue Ribbon school. My passion is teaching, especially fifth grade. I like to try new ways of doing things in my classroom and I try to keep my students guessing.


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Louise Huff

I am Louise Huff. I am currently teaching first grade at Paris Elementary School in Taylors, SC. I have previously taught 4 and 5 year old kindergarten. I have 22 years teaching experience. I have one daughter who is a senior in high school. I love teaching 1st grade! Watching children learn how to read is one of my favorite things about teaching first grade. Seeing their world open up through books is so rewarding. I turn to Smile Makers for ideas and for all the best educational supplies.


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Christine Morelli

After 20 years of teaching I still have a desire and a passion to be in the classroom with students. In 1989 I graduated with my Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education and began teaching kindergarten two years later. While teaching kindergarten I received a Masters Degree in Early Childhood. After six years I moved to first grade which I taught for four years. I was a Reading Resource for one year and then taught K-4 for one year. In 2003 after moving from Florida to South Carolina I began teaching second grade. In 2007 I received my Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership and National Board Certification in 2009. Even though I have the schooling to go into administration I have chosen to stay in the classroom, where I can make a positive impact on children's lives.


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Kim Camp

As an elementary school principal, I am a teacher-at-heart! I have been a first grade teacher for ten years, a literacy coach for eight years, and the principal of Alma Elementary in Cherokee County for the past four years. When the Smile Makers catalog arrives at our school, the office staff, the teachers, and I flip through the pages immediately. We purchase the birthday stickers and pencils for all of our students. On their special day, students receive one of each and a book of their very own. At Alma, we have several literacy themed-days throughout the year. Many of our ideas come from items from the catalogue. This past spring, we had a LOVE, LEARN, and PEACE OUT day. We purchased the retro-paper, peace rings, tie-dyed spinners, and more that we could incorporate into lessons. I have been a Smile Scholar for about six years now. I am impressed by the commitment from Smile Makers to educators in their endeavors to make learning real and exciting for students


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Suzanne Hughes

I am so excited that you are surfing a site that has terrific products for your classroom. I am proud to be a Smile Scholar. This is my 12th year as a teacher. I love my job! There are many challenges in this profession, but there are also many times of joy. I graduated from Converse College with a Bachelors degree in Music Education: Choral and Vocal Performance, and a Master's in Elementary Education. My teaching career began as a Music Teacher for K4-8th grades. (All in the same school!) Several years later, I moved into the classroom and have been teaching 4th grade ever since. I am in my 10th year of marriage to my wonderful husband, and we have 5 beautiful children. (4 spoiled cats and a rotten dog) I am a proud member of SCIRA- the South Carolina International Reading Association, and the Delta Kappa Gamma Lambda chapter. My hobbies include making jewelry and finding a nice restaurant to go to so I don't have to cook. Reading a good book is another of my passions.


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Brooke Poe

I have been teaching 1st grade at Paris Elementary for 7 years. In 2007, I had the privilege of being named "Greenville County's Emerging Teacher of the Year"; and in 2010 was awarded "SC PTA Teacher of the Year"; and then currently I am the "2011-2012 Teacher of the Year" for my school as well as "Greenville County's Top 10 Teacher of the Year". All of these awards are a tremendous honor! Teaching is a passion for me. It has been my lifetime dream to be a teacher, and I am really proud to be part of the Paris Elementary family! Each day, it is my goal to ensure children enjoy and embrace the learning process. In doing this, I encourage them to become active participants and develop their own motivation for learning. There is no greater reward than watching children grow into independent thinkers and problem solvers. Seeing a child's eyes light up when they discover something new, watching students help each other without being prompted, or hearing a child say, "This was the best day ever, Mrs. Poe" never gets old. Knowing that I have given them these wonderful experiences is one of the greatest rewards I could ever receive as a teacher.


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Carolyn Reed Smith

I have been a middle school teacher for 25 years. I am a minister, a businesswomen and have been the director of an after school tutoring service for several years. I love teaching when children are having fun learning.


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Ginny Campbell

I have been teaching for 10 years. I can't think of any other profession I would rather be in. I love to see children learn and when they get those ah ha moments. Reading is my passion and there is no greater joy than sharing a good book with a child. I have been married for 25 years. I am the mother of two daughters who are also both teachers. I've lived in SC for 16 years, we moved here from RI. I have two dogs, a Springer named Jacob and a Chihuahua named Lilly. I love to travel and camp in our camper. One day I want to go to Europe and visit countries I've only read about. I've been a Smile Maker Scholar since 2002.


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Janice Tucker

This is my fifth year at Beech Springs. I received my gifted endorsement from Converse College and I am a National Certified Board Teacher. I am currently working toward my English as Second Learner degree from USC- Upstate. This is an exciting and challenging time during my teaching career One can never stop learning. I have been in education for twenty two years. During that time, I have taught in Greenville and Spartanburg Counties. I have been in regular and special education, 2nd - 8th grade classrooms. Most of my teaching career has been in math and science. I was also a varsity cheerleading coach and assistant band director.


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Jean Brewington

Jean Brewington, Director of Elementary Education for Spartanburg School District Three. Jean has been an educator for 39 years: elementary teacher, elementary and middle school principal, Director of Elementary Education, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Adult Education teacher, and adjunct professor for several colleges. She is married to her childhood sweetheart, Mike, and has one daughter, Kacie. She enjoys reading, needle work and exercising.


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Marise Sizemore

My husband and I have 2 children and 4 grandchildren. I began my teaching career as a music teacher after getting my undergraduate degree at the University of NC School of the Arts and my graduate degree from Columbia University in New York. Later, I did post-graduate work to add elementary ed. to my teaching certificate and began teaching fourth grade. I have a Masters plus 30 and am National Board certified with gifted endorsement. This is my 30th year of teaching. At the present time I teach math and science to fourth grade gifted/talented students. Teaching is a love, not a job. Every day I have the opportunity to guide children toward becoming productive, caring citizens of tomorrow. Each day brings new challenges and new joys. I am blessed to have a career that is rewarding.


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Janet Pritchett

I teach 4th grade math and science at River Ridge Elementary in Spartanburg District Five Schools. I am married and have 2 sons, and 4 cats. I have been teaching full time or substitute teaching for more than 20 years. I received my Bachelor's Degree in Secondary Ed/Social Studies from Clemson University, and a Masters Degree in Gifted/Elementary Education from Converse College. I have taught 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th grades, and high school, but my favorite age to teach is 4th grade. And my favorite subjects to teach are math and science. I enjoy working with students because I like to see their growth in learning. It's such a great feeling to teach a new concept and experience the excitement when students say "Oh! I get it!!!!" I also find it rewarding at the end of each year to review everything we have learned and have the students exclaim - -"We sure did learn a lot this year!"


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Melissa Frost

I am a 4th grade math/science teacher at Duncan Elementary in Spartanburg, South Carolina. I have been teaching for 19 years and have taught Kindergarten through 6th grade. I attended USC Upstate for my undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and received my Master's Degree from Converse College. I have a husband, Randy, and two children, Kelsey and Avery. I also have a 10 year old Beagle named Molly. I enjoy reading and cooking in my "spare time".


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Kate Johnson

I graduated from Clemson University with graduate degrees from USC Upstate and Converse. I have been in education for 20 years. I am presently an elementary assistant principal in Spartanburg School District 5. I have also been a reading interventionist and first grade teacher. My heart is with the younger children and watching them grow and learn. In addition to school I enjoy being a mom to my two boys, scrapbooking, and traveling.


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Melissa Hyatt

I am married with two children. My boys' ages are twelve and sixteen. I taught first, second, and third grades as a classroom teacher for ten years. I have been a school counselor for eleven years. I have been in education for a total of twenty-one years and just enjoy it so much. I work with children hoping to have some kind of positive influence in their lives. I want to make a positive difference for them so that they can grow up to be independent successful adults. I hope to continue for many more years doing what I enjoy most-teaching and counseling!


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Teresa C. Garrett

A graduate of Southern Wesleyan University, I have been teaching for eleven years and am currently teaching fifth grade math and social studies at Powdersville Elementary School in Anderson District One. PVES is a 2010 recipient of the National Blue Ribbon School and I am very proud to say that I am a part of that. To me, teaching is both a calling and a passion.


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Elizabeth Witherspoon

I originally hail from Denmark, SC. I received my Bachelor's degree in Experimental Psychology and Master of Arts in Teaching Elementary Education from the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Recently, I earned my +30 hours above her Master's degree in Educational Technology and am endorsed to teach gifted education. I am in my sixth year of teaching with experience in second, fourth, and fifth grade. I am employed with Spartanburg School District 5 as a fourth grade English/Language Arts and social studies teacher at Wellford Academy of Science and Technology. I reside in Lyman with my furry children, my cat, Carolina, and dog, Cocky. I am an active member of Joy Lutheran Church. I enjoy teaching because I am able to reach children not only in an academic capacity, but also socially and developmentally. Having been blessed with many encouraging teachers throughout my life, I hope to be the same kind of teacher to my students.


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Stephanie Trevitz, Ed.D., NBCT

I have an undergraduate degree in Education from Furman University, and a master's and doctorate from Vanderbilt University in special education and not-for-profit management / school administration. I have taught for almost 20 years in various settings including private schools, hospitals, and public schools, and I am a National Board Certified Exceptional Needs Specialist. My first love is teaching in the special education classroom, and I have high progress literacy and math success with the students I teach. In addition, I am a fierce advocate for children's rights, am a court-certified expert witness in the areas of special education, child abuse, and public schools, and I serve tirelessly in the nexus of these topics. I collaborate with parents, private attorneys, and civil rights groups to ensure that children receive the services and justice to which they are entitled. I serve on several state-level committees related to children, adolescents, and families. I am a sought after speaker and trainer on these topics, having spoken at Law Enforcement / Safe Schools trainings, on the steps of the State House with the Governor, and on Capital Hill. I am the mother of six children adopted from foster care, all of whom have special needs. My most important and humbling job is being the mother to six children adopted from foster care, all with special needs.


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Norma Cinco

I am a Bilingual teacher from El Paso, Texas. I am currently living in Waco, Texas with my husband of 10 years and my two handsome boys (Saul, 5 and Omar, 3). I have been teaching for 12 years and honestly, I don't see myself doing anything else but working with children. This is my seventh year teaching Kindergarten. What makes my job more gratifying is watching my students "blossom" into successful little people. I cannot explain the satisfaction and emotion I feel when my students come to me with a big smile to show me how they can now write their name, read a sentence or even tie their shoe laces all on their own! It feels great to know that I was able to impact a child's life in a positive way. This is what teaching is all about…guiding and helping my students meet their goals and become successful learners. I would not trade my J-O-B for anything in this world!!!!


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Sonia Aguila-Gonzalez

I attended The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) where I earned a Bachelor's Degree, a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential with emphasis in Spanish and Master's Degree in Education. I speak English, Spanish and some Italian. I have been teaching for 14 years. I have taught Kindergarten, First and Second Grade at Canalino School in Carpinteria, CA. I love my job! I am the Director, Producer and radio host of "Festival Infantil", a radio show for Spanish speaking children, which airs on Saturdays from 8:00-10:00 A.M. KIST 107.7 FM. This year I will be celebrating 15 years on the air. I am also a columnist for the Spanish newspaper "Santa Barbara Latino" (Education Section). I enjoy writing articles about education, informing and educating parents. I knew since I was 5 years old that I wanted to be a teacher. Playing with my dolls and pretending to be their teacher was my favorite thing to do. While attending school I realized that "Life is not a having and a getting but a being and becoming". I used this quote to inspire my classmates when I gave a speech at high school graduation. There is nothing I would rather do than teach. I love what I do and I get paid to do it! How TERRIFIC is that?


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Jami Smith

I have been teaching for 11 years and have learned to love the challenges that teaching presents. It would be easy to get bogged down trying to reach newcomers, GATE, and special ed. students. Instead, I learned to look to the senior teachers around me for guidance and inspiration. Ask any teacher, there is nothing better than seeing your kids have a "light bulb moment".


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Donna Edwards Henry

Having taught for 40 years, I'm continually taking classes and workshops on the look out for a different twist on the curriculum, in order to keep me enthusiastic about teaching. I continue to teach because I can never get enough of the smiles on the faces of young students when they meet with success. I owe my passion for teaching to the staff of the District of Columbia's Teachers College who modeled how exceptional teachers create enthusiasm for lifelong learning.


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Jennifer "Charlie" Kelly

I am a 2010 University at Buffalo Masters of Library Science Graduate and I am employed as a school library media specialist in Rochester, NY. I teach because I want to have a positive impact on students. As a school library media specialist, I can have the greatest impact since I have contact with the entire student body. There is so much information on the Internet and as a school library media specialist; I can help students find the right information through databases and reliable websites. Reading can introduce the students to different cultures and the diversity of the world. As a school library media specialist, I can enrich the lives of the students and hope one day they too can make their dreams come true. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling and running.


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Sharon Fisher

This is my 17th year in elementary education. I started out teaching a combined 3rd and 4th grade class which was an exercise in learning to be flexible- a definite must for a teacher! I was blessed with four sons, but substituted and worked on my graduate degree while staying at home. When I came back to teaching, I taught 2nd graders and enjoyed that position for 7 years. I learned how to teach all over again after staying home for 10 years! I was asked to be third grade lead teacher which was a privilege to encourage newer teachers. After five years, I was asked to take the position of curriculum coordinator for the elementary school as well as write educational materials. I often have the privilege to present workshops on a variety of elementary-level subjects and teaching methods. This is my third year in that position, and one of the benefits for me is the weekly interaction with teachers. It is a blessing to meet and encourage educators from our area as well as around the world- all with the love of teaching children.


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Nicole Johnson

It is my second year teaching and I am continuing to grow and learn as an educator. I came to the realization that I not only wanted to be a teacher, but specifically a Kindergarten teacher, as I was working in a daycare setting. I love seeing the growth and progress of my students throughout the year, from learning their letters and numbers, to reading indendent texts and creating number stories.


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Jed Dearybury, NBCT

Currently in his 10th year of teaching, Jed Dearybury is a National Board Certified Teacher, with Early Childhood, Elementary, and Gifted/Talented Certification. Jed started his career in first grade, moved to second, and is presently teaching third. While living in a mud hut on the mission field in Senegal, West Africa, Jed knew that teaching was his life's calling. Upon his return to the states he completed his MAT degree at Converse College. "There is nothing in the world I would rather be doing," said Jed when asked about his career. "My students are the best, and I strive every day to give them the best because they deserve it!" Jed grew up right here in Spartanburg, SC and loves working for District 6 schools. "It's like a big family here. They take care of their own." Jed has been awarded Teacher of the Year, Spartanburg Country Distinguished Elementary Reading Teacher of the Year, and Donors Choose Innovator of the Year. When he is not teaching you can find him most days running in downtown. He has recently become a fitness fanatic running 3 marathons, 2 half marathons, and countless 5K and 10K races over the last 2 years. He is also the lead trumpet player in the church orchestra and coaches little league soccer. He is proud to add Smile Scholar to his ever growing list of opportunities!


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Matt Johnson

Matt is currently in his 7th year of teaching. He currently teaches 3rd grade but has taught grades 3 through 6. In 2007, he left the US to go teach at a missionary school in the Philippines for a year where he taught a 5-8th grade class. He earned a BA of English from North Greenville University and a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) from Converse College. He also has his Gifted and Talented Endorsement. In his spare time he enjoys many sporting activities as well as coaching youth football and soccer. He serves at the executive director and video producer at his church. He teaches all subjects but especially loves teaching science.


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