At a special breakfast this morning, GCS Superintendent Dr. Burke Royster presented The Fine Arts Center theatre teacher Anne Tromsness with the district’s highest teaching honor, naming her the 2021-22 Greenville County Schools Teacher of the Year.
Three runners-up were announced. Christian Scott, band director at Hillcrest Middle School was named First Runner-up; Sarah Poole, fifth grade teacher at Taylors Elementary School was named Second Runner-up; and Anna Hasenkamp, 7th Grade English Language Arts and Social Studies teacher at Greenville Middle Academy was named Third Runner-up.
Finalists for 2021-22 Teacher of the Year are Lisa Aucoin, media specialist at Summit Drive Elementary School; Jessie Bolton, science teacher at Berea High School; Porter Grant, special education teacher at Mauldin Middle School; Chappell Hughes, instructional coach at Mitchell Road Elementary School; Kendall Johnson, English teacher at Wade Hampton High School; and Beth Mardre, 4-year-old kindergarten teacher at Golden Strip Child Development Center.
Two Emerging Teachers of the Year were named. Matt DeHart, fifth grade teacher at Heritage Elementary School, was named Elementary Level Emerging Teacher of the Year, and Caroline Black, 7th grade English Language Arts teacher at Northwood Middle School, was named Secondary Level Emerging Teacher of the Year. The Emerging Teacher of the Year program is sponsored by Greenville Federal Credit Union.
2021-22 GCS Teacher of the Year
Anne Tromsness, Theatre, Fine Arts Center
Greenville County Schools 2021-22 Teacher of the Year Anne Tromsness finds joy in inspiring students with her own passion for the arts. “It’s a lifelong love and I want to share that love with my students. Engaging with imagination is a limitless resource, and everybody comes in with something different, so the fact that we get to share that and manifest together is a pretty awesome honor to do every day,” she explained.
Among her many job titles over the years are teaching artist, curriculum writer, drama instructor, performer, and director. As the current Theatre Performance instructor at South Carolina’s first specialized arts school, Tromsness explains that if students are interested in theatre, they are interested in every subject. She tells them, “Go into your biology class and look at how pattern and process play out on stage and how they also play out in nature. You can find great inspiration there.”
From analyzing a passage of literature, to researching the historical context of a dramatic work, to breaking down the sounds in a speech to maximize their impact on the listener, Mrs. Tromsness says the process of making theatre is more complex and more rewarding than an audience will ever know. “Taking a dramatic text from page to stage is a testament to the power of the coalescence of all forms of human intelligence – from emotion to linguistic to kinesthetic to spatial,” she said.
“One of my favorite things about theatre is that it is both absolutely contemporary, utilizing the latest technologies in design and construction, and telling stories from our current culture, and it is simultaneously wonderfully antiquated,” explained Tromsness.
She hopes to ignite a spark in her students by empowering them with the creative process. “The arts teach us about our humanity, and about how to make sense of our world through story, image, movement, and song. They connect us to one another,” she said.
Teacher of the Year Process
The process of selecting ten Finalists began last fall when schools and centers selected their individual Teachers of the Year. School level Teachers of the Year completed a comprehensive application that was reviewed and scored by an initial Screening Committee. The judges then ranked the top one-third applicants and selected the finalists.
How Are the Finalists Chosen?
Each Top Ten candidate for GCS Teacher of the Year is judged on the completed application, a one-on-one interview, and a classroom observation. During the interview, candidates were judged on their use of effective communication skills, organization of responses to questions, and substance and relevance of response. Top Ten Finalists had an unannounced observation by the judging committee. Judges scored each finalist on his or her knowledge of content, teacher/student interaction, communication skills, instructional delivery, and assessment and feedback.
The members of the Selection Committee are Scott Powell, Rotary Club of Greenville; Dr. Michelle Meekins, retired GCS administrator; Kelly Nalley, former GCS Teacher of the Year and former SC Teacher of the Year; Andy Waters, Herff Jones of South Carolina; and Dr. Phillip Wilder, Clemson University.
Special Thanks to Our Sponsors
Special awards and prizes are provided for the top Greenville County teacher and other honorees. Sponsors include the Bank of Travelers Rest, BMW Manufacturing Company, Chick-fil-A of Greer, Cowart Awards, Eplee + Associates, Expressions Unlimited, Greenville Federal Credit Union, Greenville Journal, Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa, Herff Jones of South Carolina, Jostens, L/S Homes Residential; Michelin North America Inc., Papa John’s Pizza, Peace Center, Rotary Club of Greenville, Sam’s Club, Spinx Company, and T-Mobile.