By: Kelsey Woods
On Thursday, May 19, the Charter Institute at Erskine hosted its fourth annual Awards Banquet at the Columbia Convention Center. This is the first Institute Awards Banquet that has been held in person since 2019.
Over 250 attendees from the Charter Institute at Erskine’s 26 charter schools statewide attended the event, including students, parents, volunteers, teachers, and school leadership. Charter School Ambassadors Christian DeWalk (Odyssey Online Learning) and Trinidy Higgins (Gray Collegiate Academy) served as the hosts of the event.
Ms. Makenzie Godfrey (Summit Classical School, Clinton), Mr. Terrance Heyward (Royal Live Oaks Academy, Hardeeville) and Mr. Jason Lin (Lowcountry Leadership Charter School, Charleston) were also announced as the Elementary, Middle, and High School Students of the Year. These students were nominated by their school’s staff and were selected as the winners by a panel of Institute judges.
Senator Danny Verdin attended the Banquet and presented his constituent, Ms. Makenzie Godfrey, with her award.
Thornwell Charter School‘s Cinda Ginn was a finalist for 2022-2023 Nathan Yon Institute Teacher of the Year. Summit Classical School’s Kate Cheeks was also nominated for the award.
Summit Classical School‘s Joe Baxter was nominated for Volunteer of the Year.
Federal Programs Coordinator of the Year was Mary-Greene Thomasson from Summit Classical School.
As the 2021-2022 academic year draws to a close, Reason & Republic is thrilled to highlight the outstanding achievements of students and faculty at Belton Preparatory Academy, Summit Classical School, and The South Carolina Preparatory Academy. Our focus today is on Megan Patterson, a Kindergarten teacher at Belton Preparatory Academy who was named the 2022-2023 Nathan Yon Institute Teacher of the Year by the Charter Institute at Erskine. Mrs. Patterson, who is also Belton Prep’s Teacher of the Year, is a creative and enthusiastic instructor who thrives on making learning fun and engaging for her Kindergarten students. “In the words of Scott Hayden, ‘teachers have three loves: love of learning, love of learners, and the love of bringing the first two together,” said Belton Preparatory Academy Principal Mrs. McCullough. “Mrs. Patterson is an exceptional teacher because she understands the value of all three.”
Mrs. Patterson joined the Belton Prep community three years ago after a challenging teaching experience at another school almost led her to abandon the profession. “Teaching is my dream and what I’ve always wanted to do,” said Mrs. Patterson, who was thrilled to find such a perfect fit at Belton Prep. “The team I met with during my interview made me feel at home and confident in myself, and like I was where I truly belong,” she explained. “And that positive experience hasn’t wavered one bit.” From the small class sizes to the individual time and focus invested in the students to the amazing community, there is a lot to love about Belton. “Everyone here wants what is best for the school and the kids, and that shared mindset is something very special we have at Belton,” explained Mrs. Patterson. “I really love the excitement we have, where the smallest thing can just set the room off with laughter and joy.”
Kindergarten is a time of significant social and academic growth, full of new friendships and lightbulb moments when students fully connect with what they are learning. According to Mrs. Patterson, Kindergarten is where it all starts. “This is their first time being in ‘big’ school,” she said, “and we love that we get to mold what school is going to be for them moving forward.” Building independence has long been an important component of Belton’s Kindergarten curriculum, and it is particularly critical coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic where opportunities to exercise independence were limited. “We focus on fostering developmental independence in the kids from the first day of school,” explained Mrs. Patterson, “working with them on opening their own lunch materials, putting on their own jackets, and establishing the routines and procedures they need for the future. They mature in their own confidence and independence, and by the end of the year they are jumping out of the car line to make their own way into class.”
Mrs. Patterson was extremely honored to be nominated as The Charter Institute at Erskine’s Teacher of the Year, but didn’t expect to win until her name was announced during the awards banquet. “It was shock and disbelief on my face,” she laughed, “and I am just truly honored and thrilled to be representing the Charter Institute.” Superintendent of the Charter Institute at Erskine Cameron Runyan and 2021-2022 Nathan Yon Institute Teacher of the Year Ms. Laura Ferguson presented Mrs. Patterson with a trophy and a gift from the family of Nathan Yon. As the district-level Teacher of the Year, Mrs. Patterson is eligible to become the state-level Teacher of the Year next year.
Summer is right around the corner, and Mrs. Patterson and her Belton Prep colleagues are already excited for the 2022-2023 school year. “We started planning immediately after graduation and have some really fun new classroom activities organized for next year,” she exclaimed. Mrs. Patterson’s advice to teachers who wish to follow her incredible example? “Find a community like Belton that is going to give you support inside and outside of the classroom, and reach out to those around you to support and encourage them. I make cinnamon rolls every couple of months for the other teachers, and doing that small act of reaching out helps to build that sense of community.” We are extremely proud of Mrs. Patterson and look forward to hearing about her accomplishments in the future.
Reason & Republic is dedicated to developing high quality charter schools that provide an excellent education to underserved populations across the southeast. We currently manage Belton Preparatory Academy, Summit Classical School, and the South Carolina Preparatory Academy. Our award-winning charter schools are content rich classical academies that provide students the tools needed to learn how to think critically and purposefully. Learn more at https://reasonandrepublic.com.