Jeff Maxey, a special education resource teacher at Starr Elementary School in Anderson, has been named the 2019 South Carolina Teacher of the Year.
Maxey also serves as the head of the Upstate school’s special education department, a district teacher trainer, a district evaluator and a master teacher mentor. He also taught educators in Africa for eight years.
“Jeff exhibits the qualities and characteristics that we want to see in every current and future South Carolina educator,” S.C. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said in a news release. “He is so deserving of this tremendous honor, and I know he will do a fantastic job advocating and representing our over 50,000 teachers this next year.”
Maxey receives $25,000 and a new BMW for one year. He will serve as a roving ambassador and spokesman for the state’s 50,000 educators while providing mentoring, attending speaking engagements, working with teaching fellows and teaching cadets, and leading the state’s teacher forum.
Maxey originally pursued a career as a minister before officiating a funeral for a young student. After the service, he was invited to visit the student’s senior class and became inspired to teach.
Maxey credited his teaching success to his grandparents, who instilled a love of logic-based games such as backgammon and chess.
“I am reminded of those puzzles and the logic of those games as I desire to impact the lives of students with special needs,” Maxey said. “Like creative puzzles or multifaceted games, each student has many intricate designs within. My goal is to help them discover what is inside, then let it out.”
Maxey, representing Anderson School District Three, was nominated along with four other finalists: Robert Harris, Richland County School District One; Nicholas Snyder, Berkeley County School District; Zachariah Lowe, Sumter County School District; and Susan Snyder, York School District Three. The winner was announced during a ceremony Tuesday night at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.s