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State superintendent of education speaks at Furman


“Know your students and make that heart connection with them,” State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman told senior education majors at Furman University last week.

Spearman was the guest speaker for the 2015 Teaching Banquet, hosted annually by Furman’s Education Department to recognize the efforts of both teacher candidates and their cooperating teachers during the 2014-2015 academic year. More than 100 people attended the event, held Thursday, March 26, at the Watkins Room of the Trone Student Center.

This spring, a total of 35 teaching interns worked in classrooms in Greenville County, Pickens County and Spartanburg Districts 1, 5 and 6.

As they prepare to begin teaching in classrooms of their own, Spearman encouraged education majors to take the focus off standardized tests and think about helping students see the relevancy of what they’re learning. Show students how to work together to solve problems while teaching qualities of integrity and perseverance, she said.

Spearman spent 18 years in the public schools as a music teacher and assistant principal. She served four terms as a member of the S.C. House of Representatives, six years as deputy superintendent of the South Carolina Department of Education and 10 years as the executive director of the South Carolina Association of School Administrators.molly1

She holds a B.A. degree in music education from Lander University, a master’s degree in education supervision from George Washington University and an Education Specialist degree from the University of South Carolina.

Spearman described effective classroom teachers and principals who facilitate personalized learning for every student every day as “the foundation for student success.

“Think out of the box and keep students engaged. Get to know your students’ families,” Spearman said. “We applaud you for what you’ve done here at Furman.”

In his remarks, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty John Beckford called teaching “one of the most important callings in public engagement.”

The banquet is a long-standing tradition in the Education Department, marking the end of the academic year. This year’s event included recognition for senior Teaching Fellows Josi Corbit, Shelby Brown, Lizzy Douglass and Dustin Ledford and a standing ovation for Assistant Academic Dean Lesley Quast, who will be retiring this spring after 39 years at Furman. Department Chairperson Dr. Nelly Hecker served as mistress of ceremonies and Dr. Scott Henderson offered a moment of reflection. Music was provided by a capella group, Happenstance, with sophomores Kerby Baier, Caroline LeGrand, Sandy Sharis and Madi Earls.

Teaching interns recognized included:

Elementary: Elizabeth Batson, Haley Blankenship, Savonia Bryan, Leigh Anne Buckley, Josi Corbit, Elaine Epting, Anna Fluevog, Katie Harrell, Daniel Hoilett, Dustin Ledford, Hope Lybeer, Maria Morrison, Audrey Neumann, Sarah Noble, McKinsey Payne, Suzy Schmalbeck, Madison Smith, Stephanie St. John, Sally Tucker, Reed Turner, Erin Van Meter, Mary Varley and Emily Zizzi; Biology: Sandra Story; English: Carolyn Smith; Mathematics: Courtney Reimer; Music – Choral: Hannah Cox; Music – Instrumental: Jared Best, Lizzy Douglass, Evan Haight, Graham McBride and Allison Shutt; Music – Strings: Shelby Brown; Social Studies: John Morrison; and Spanish: Jorge Jimenez-Flores.

Last updated August 5, 2022
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Clinton Colmenares
News & Media Relations Director