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SC Teacher of the Year Inspires CSU’s Future Educators

University Relations

Darlene SuttonDarlene Sutton, South Carolina’s 2014 Teacher of the Year, brought her story-telling magic to  Charleston Southern’s Teaching Fellows  and the Future Teachers Society Wednesday, Sept. 18 in her role as a statewide ambassador for teaching.

“As teachers you are going to get to do some incredible things,” said Sutton. “You will get to be a ray of sunshine in the life of a child who may live in the shadows. Teaching is one of the most life-impacting professions you could choose. Education makes a difference.”

Sutton’s beloved grandfather was the youngest of 21 children. Death and trouble visited the family, and the Department of Social Services came to take the younger children out of the home. Thinking he was helping, an older brother hid with Sutton’s grandfather until after DSS left. As a result, Sutton’s grandfather never was afforded a formal education and couldn’t read.

She said, “Papa could not read, and it bothered me he couldn't read. Memaw would read the Bible aloud to him. I knew what he could have done if he had been able to read, and that sealed the deal for me; I realized I wanted to be a teacher.”

Sutton challenged the CSU education students to find the strengths in each child. “Children deserve to have someone teach them who finds positive things to say.” Teachers should create a loving environment in their classroom and stand in the gap for their students.

Sutton said, “I love them from the minute they enter the door. Once they come in my room, they are mine.” She offered practical advice to the future teachers:

  • Reach out to the community and communicate with parents
  • Call parents to tell them what their child has done right
  • Your first year of teaching, get a composition book and record your thoughts and ideas daily. “You think you won’t forget, but you will.”
  • Become someone your students can trust. “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t trust.”
  • Really listen when children talk
  • Dig deep and find the intelligence in each child

As part of her email signature, Sutton lists a slogan: “Aspire to inspire before you expire.” As she has traveled the state, Sutton has met many educators who are passionate about teaching and inspiring children. She encouraged  Charleston Southern teacher candidates  to be that kind of educator.



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