Aynor teacher celebrated as Horry County Schools ‘Teacher of the Year,’ selected as state finalist

Published: Apr. 19, 2023 at 8:49 PM EDT
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AYNOR, S.C. (WMBF) - Renee Atkinson has been recognized as Horry County Schools’ 2023 Teacher of the Year, but the skills she brings outside of her curriculum could soon earn her the title of South Carolina Teacher of The Year.

“I hold myself to a pretty high standard,” said Atkinson. “If I’m going to expect their best then I have to be willing to give my best every day.”

By preparing her students for both AP and state exams, she is doing what it takes to see her students succeed.

With 21 years under her belt as an educator, she said the greatest challenge is making sure her students are supported.

“You have kids that are good at so many different things, and so trying to find a way to help every child be successful, it’s probably the core of what we do,” she said. “The content is secondary to building those relationships with kids so that you can figure out how to help them be successful with your content so that they can be successful in their future.”

Atkinson is an Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate English teacher at Aynor High School and the current Aynor High School Teacher of the Year.

She said outside of the long curriculum, meeting them at their level has helped earn her the title of HCS 2023 Teacher of the Year.

“She’ll go out her way for students,” said Emmanuel Deas, an Aynor High School senior. “Some teachers don’t do that, some teachers do, but the way she does it, like the other day she had given us a list of stuff we need to work on all the exams.”

Michael McCracken, Aynor High’s principal, joined in on the sentiment shared by Atkinson’s students.

“Doesn’t matter where you come from, doesn’t matter your last name, or who you are she’s going to push you to excellence and she believes in her kids,” said McCracken. “She believes they can reach levels that even sometimes they themselves don’t believe that can reach so she believes in her kids she pushes them, she doesn’t let circumstances stand in the way of them being successful.”

In addition to honing in on skills to prepare her students for the future, Atkinson is now one of the five finalists focused on claiming the South Carolina Teacher of The year title.

“I think there are over 50,000 teachers in the state of South Carolina so to be one of five is the greatest honor you know and to even be in in the running for state teacher of the year is more than I could have ever asked or imagined,” said Atkinson.

The South Carolina Teacher of the Year will be announced on Wednesday, April 26 at 11 a.m. in Columbia where the winner will receive $25,000 along with a brand-new BMW to use while serving for one year.