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Johnston Elementary's Andra Syms Among Finalists for 2023-24 ECSD Teacher of the Year

This school year’s three finalists for Edgefield County School District’s (ECSD) Teacher of the Year include an elementary school counselor, middle school art teacher and middle school music teacher. Johnston-Edgefield-Trenton Middle School Art Teacher, Avis Tuttle Jordan; Merriwether Middle School Music Teacher, Matt Herring; and Johnston Elementary School Counselor, Andra Syms, have a combined 34 years of experience in education.


The ECSD Teacher of the Year will be announced on Friday, September 22, 2023.


Additional 2023-2024 ECSD Teachers of the Year include Merriwether Elementary School Third-Grade Teacher, Janice Bass; W.E. Parker Elementary School Second-Grade Teacher, Jessica Coleman; Strom Thurmond High School Chemistry Teacher, Amy Hardy; and Douglas Elementary School Media Specialist and Inquiry Teacher, Shannon Petty.


ECSD Teacher of the Year Finalist: Andra Syms (Johnston Elementary School)


Andra Syms experienced a lot of transition during her schooling years. It’s something that comes along with the territory when you attend 16 different schools by your senior year of high school. All that change, while difficult at the time, served her well in finding a future career.


“Some schools made learning fun and some schools made learning difficult,” Syms wrote in her ECSD Teacher of the Year application. “Teachers that cared seemed to be the teachers that found ways to make learning fun. I wanted to be that kind of teacher.”


“I knew there were students who needed extra love and attention because they were in situations where home life was very difficult,” Syms added. “I knew they could not possibly focus on academics because of issues such as hunger, abuse, neglect, an incarcerated parent and so much more … that is when I decided I wanted to become a school counselor so that I could help these students and help take some of that burden off of the teachers.”


She says building relationships with students is integral to reaching more successful educational experiences and outcomes.


“Building relationships should be at the heart of teaching,” Syms wrote. “When students come to school, and they feel safe and accepted, then they are more likely to open themselves up to learning. Knowing each and every student may take time, but it is time well spent. Strong classroom environments are rigorous and must be a place where students feel comfortable failing. The best learning comes from making mistakes and finding answers through problem solving. Not all students will grow at the same rate, but not all students are destined to do the same things in life. We must meet students where they are so that we can guide them to find their strengths and interests.”


Congratulations again to our 2023-2024 ECSD Teacher of the Year finalists and all of our amazing Teachers of the Year.   

ECSD Public Information office