Jenna Hallman said people have been telling her she would become a teacher all her life. But she was studying something else in college when a job at a day care changed her mind.
The administrators and directors at the day care began including her in big projects.
"They really sort of molded me," Ms. Hallman told the Anderson Independent-Mail .
Ms. Hallman, who teaches at Calhoun Academy for the Arts, has been teaching for 10 years.
She wins $25,000 and the use of a 2007 BMW Z-4 roadster for one year. She also goes on to compete for National Teacher of the Year and will spend a year working across the state to retain teachers and make them better in the classroom.
Though the honors are nice, Ms. Hallman said being a teacher has even better rewards.
"It's about the smiles, the 'Oh, I get Mrs. Hallman.' It's the look on their face when they finally figure it out," she said.
Other finalists for the award were:
- Josie Stratton, an English teacher at Mayo High School for Math, Science and Technology in Darlington County.
- Renee Sanders, a biology teacher at Johnsonville High School in Florence School District 5.
- Laura Jean Reed, a music teacher at Stone Academy of Communications Arts in Greenville.
- Rona Neely, a math teacher at Bell Street Middle School in Laurens School District 56.