FLORENCE, S.C. – John W. Moore Intermediate School art teacher Sharri Duncan says she is grateful for being selected as the Florence One Schools teacher of the year.
“I still can’t believe it,” Duncan said. “I still pinch myself every morning and think, ‘Out of all the good teachers in this district, because I know lots of them and there are many, many good teachers, I can’t believe that I was selected.”
Duncan, who has been teaching since 2004, is looking toward the next title: South Carolina state teacher of the year.
Duncan said she hopes to represent the district well and show others what great things are happening in the district. She also said her platform is showing the importance of art within every field.
“I want them to know that the arts matter, and they matter because every child can be creative,” Duncan said. “No matter what he or she decides to go into, whether it is science, mathematics or anything, teaching a child to think critically and creatively will help them no matter what their goals or life ambitions are.”
Last year, South Carolina adopted design proficiency standards, which Duncan uses in her classroom. The standards show educators how to teach design through all subjects.
“I teach them how to think, and if I can teach them how to think, then they can be creative in whatever career they do,” Duncan said. “You have to teach them the process of being creative.”
One of Duncan’s sixth-grade students, Catherine Canfield, said Duncan teaches them to be able to use art in the real world and grow in their creativity by giving the students good projects that allow them to be creative, but learn at the same time.
“She sets boundaries and lets your creativity flow,” Catherine said.
Catherine has been taught by Duncan for two years, as well as being in her summer program.
Principal Carol Schweitz said Duncan is an integral part of Moore, and she makes the school a better place.
“As you walk down the hallways of our school, you see color, beauty, creativity, imagination, excitement and pride,” Schweitz said. “Our halls display the beautiful artwork of our students, and their love for art is so evident. This love comes only from a teacher who inspires, motivates and instills the love of art in others. Sharri is a unique teacher who is so very deserving of this honor.”
Schweitz said Duncan has gone above and beyond just teaching in the classroom.
Schweitz said Duncan has written grant applications for students to take part in multi-cultural events and provide materials and technology for her classroom. Duncan has been provided staff development for integrating STEAM activities and project-based learning in the arts curriculum.
Duncan began teaching through the Program of Alternative Certification for Educators program in South Carolina in 2004. She said she comes from a family of teachers, which she said helped guide her into education.