FLORENCE, S.C. — Florence One Schools selected West Florence High School science teacher Nichole Scipio as the 2019-20 Teacher of the Year.

The award was presented during the The School Foundation’s 2019 gala Tuesday night.

“This is a great honor because it’s bigger than me,” Scipio said. “I know that I’m making a big difference.”

Scipio teaches biology and physical science at West Florence. She also serves as the Project Lead the Way human body sciences and the lead STEM teacher.

Scipio was selected out of four honor roll teachers in the district. Before the announcement, a video played with students’ opinions of the four teachers.

“She allows us to think for ourselves and to figure things out on our own, and I believe that’s important because that is what we will have to do in the future,” said senior Dashanti Price.

Another senior, Jordan Cook, said Scipio genuinely cares about every student.

Principal Matthew Dowdell also shared his thoughts on Scipio in a media advisory from the district.

“Ms. Scipio is the type of teacher I want teaching my own children,” Dowdell said. “She is fun and engaging in the classroom and builds a rapport with students that makes them want to achieve their best.”

During the gala Superintendent Richard O’Malley announced the teacher of the year.

Scipio received a $1,000 check from Signature Wealth Strategies.

Scipio graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in biology and began substitute teaching. Scipio decided to become a certified teacher through the Program for Alternative Certification of Educators program.

After teaching for three years, Scipio decided to pursue a career in pharmaceutical sales, which she did for 10 years.

“The whole time I was in pharmaceutical sales I would run into my previous students,” Scipio said. “Seeing them and hearing about their lives to me was just so fulfilling. So whenever I had the opportunity to come back, I came back.”

Each year one teacher from each school is selected as the school’s teacher of the year in the spring. Each teacher of the year applies to be the district teacher of the year.

The four teachers to receive the highest scores on their applications were selected as honor roll teachers. Those four teachers then underwent classroom observations and personal interviews. The district teacher of the year is selected based on this final step.

As the teacher of the year, Scipio is eligible to compete for the 2021 State Teacher of the Year award.

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