2019 Excellence in Mathematics Teaching Awards

Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative’s (TCCC) Math Pathways Project Team (MPPT) announced the winners of the 2019 Excellence in Mathematics Teaching awards at a dinner celebration on Monday, October 14 at Charleston Southern University. To honor and recognize mathematics teachers and administrators who work tirelessly to train our future work force, MPPT recognized 38 nominees with 16 winners receiving a trophy and a financial award for professional development.

The event brought together 175 people, many of them math professionals from across the four county school districts serving the greater Charleston area, as well other professionals and family members who wanted to honors these teachers.

The keynote speaker was Marc Drews, Director of Strategic Partnerships, EdVenture Children’s Museum, and a past Mathematics teacher who began his career in the Charleston area. Other speakers included Anita Zucker, CEO of The InterTech Group Inc. and Chair of the Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative Board of Directors; Jessica Jackson, Director of Global Engagement, The Boeing Company; Dr. Dondi Costin, President of Charleston Southern University; Dr. Karen Fonkert, Mathematics professor at Charleston Southern University; John Cooper, convener of TCCC’s Math Pathways Project Team, and John Read, CEO of TCCC.

Public schools across the U.S.,  including South Carolina, face mathematics teacher shortages. In fact, mathematics teacher shortages have been prevalent in South Carolina since 2000. In addition, the tri-county region’s economy now requires a highly educated and skilled labor force, particularly in the STEM disciplines, to remain competitive. Those same economic trends that have made mathematics skills increasingly valuable to students have made it difficult to attract and retain skilled mathematics teachers.

MPPT brought recognition to the excellent Mathematics teachers and professionals who were nominated by their peers for the 2019 Excellence in Mathematics Teaching awards. A special thanks goes to this year’s sponsors The Boeing Company and Charleston Southern University.

Here are the 2019 award winners by district and category

Berkeley County School District award winners


Jeremy Osborne (Elementary) is currently a 4th grade Gifted Math and Science teacher at Nexton Elementary in Berkeley County School District and has been teaching for 12 years.  He has a Master’s of Elementary Administration from The Citadel, a Master’s of Elementary Education from Medaille College, and a Bachelor’s of Science in Physical Education from State University of New York at Brockport.  He has taught gifted and talented Math, general education Math and has lead and assisted in the Project Lead the Way initiative at Nexton Elementary. He also is  lead teacher for the Robotics Team and the Science Planetarium and Olympiad team. Some of the professional development activities that Osborne has participated in include Project Lead the Way training, Number Talks, Vertical PLCs, and the Robotics Team PD.  Osborne has previously been selected as the teacher of the month. Osborne played ice hockey in college and he still likes to play competitively in his free time.



Jackie Danko (Middle School) is a 7th grade Math teacher at Macedonia Middle School in the Berkeley County School District and has been teaching for 23 years.  She earned her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from the College of Charleston.  She has taught Gifted and Talented/ Honors Pre-Algebra and Resource Math.  She has participated in the STEAM professional development and has attended the National Mathematics Conference.  In 2003 and 2004, she won the Crystal Apple Award through Time Warner Cable for her Project Based Learning in 7th and 8th grade math.  She utilizes engaging and interactive instructional strategies in the classroom, while tutoring individuals and small groups outside of class. Danko likes to spend her weekends sleeping in a handmade wooden teardrop camper.



Accalia Bailey (High School) is a Math teacher and Math department chair at Hanahan High School in Berkeley County School District.  She has been teaching math for 23 years and has a Master’s in Divergent Learning from Columbia College and a Bachelor’s in Mathematics with Secondary Certification from the State University of New York at Geneseo.  Bailey has been the Quest coordinator for levels 3 and 4, has participated in the teacher forum for two years, and has presented at the Instructional Fair.  Bailey previously received the Hanahan High School Teacher of the Year award. Bailey considered becoming a P.E. teacher but thought that everyone liked gym class and that she should try to make math just as fun!





Elizabeth Ball (Professional) is currently a Math instructional coach at Cane Bay Elementary in Berkeley County School District and has been teaching for 12 years. She earned her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Winthrop University, and a Master’s in Education degree with a specialization in K-5 Mathematics from Walden University.  Ball is known for her love of brightly colored dresses in bold prints, her impeccable knack for telling jokes during Math PD and, most importantly, her unparalleled passion for working with teachers and supporting Math education.  Ball is a national OGAP trainer and has facilitated numerous teacher cohorts in Berkeley County. Ball can be found working with Math teachers during her summers, where she facilitates Math cohorts in Berkeley County and across the country as a national OGAP trainer. Ball will be presenting at the South Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference in November.




Charleston County School District awards winners


Sarah Coleman (Elementary) is a 1st grade teacher at Stono Park Elementary. Coleman cultivates students into becoming lifelong mathematicians. By setting high expectations, her scholars are constantly meeting and exceeding goals set for MAP and FastBridge. In order to continue to expect the best from her scholars, she seeks opportunities to continue to grow as a teacher of math by participating in various trainings like OGAP. One secret to her success is her willingness to implement what has been learned and to receive feedback on her practices.






Cathy DeMers (Middle School) is a math teacher at Deer Park Middle School, and is currently serving as an instructional coach for Berkeley County Schools. This career educator has shared her knowledge beyond the scope of the classroom to include district, regional, and state venues. She strives to put students first and to make sure each child understands before moving on. Always willing to share, she has made an impact on mathematics teaching across the state and continues to coach teachers to improve their math teaching. Cathy DeMers is also a former MPPT Member.





Jenell Riley (High School) is a math teacher at Stall High School.  Passionate, professional, dedicated, caring and leader are just a few of the many words that describe this award winner. In the classroom, she excels in reaching and growing each student utilizing many different strategies. In addition to taking on many extra responsibilities, she has successfully mentored student teachers as well as other teachers in the department. Riley has truly left a mark on mathematics education and is a role model for others to follow. Congratulations to Jenell Riley, math teacher at Stall High School.





Nicholas Reece (Professional) is the Assistant Principal from West Ashley High School.  He has a knack for finding and leveraging the positive when working with other teachers in an effort to grow them so they can grow students.  By observing and providing actionable feedback in a timely manner, he has been able to make an impact on the whole math department which is evidenced in student performance. Congratulations to Nicholas Reece!






Dorchester School District Two award winners


Melissa Odom (Elementary) is a strong math leader in Dorchester District Two.  She has taught math for numerous years in the district. Currently, Odom teaches math, science, and social studies at Sand Hill Elementary School. One of her strongest qualities is her dedication to enhancing her content knowledge and sharing her knowledge with other teachers.  She has been part of numerous district math initiatives, but her enthusiasm and passion is most evident when she is with her students.   Odom’s highly engaged lessons display her passion for math through teaching concepts in stages: conceptual, pictorial and finally abstract.  When assistance is needed with any content development, presenting professional development, or suggesting a dynamic math teacher to observe, Odom is the first person recommended.



Ariana Mitchell (Middle School) is an innovative middle school math teacher at Alston Middle School where she once was a student, herself.  With a very diverse group of students, Mitchell is constantly looking for new instructional strategies to best meet their needs. Her emphasis on conceptual understanding in her classroom challenges her students to become innovative thinkers.  As an active participant in both school and district professional development, Mitchell has influenced colleagues through her willingness to share her success stories and effective strategies that build highly-engaging lessons utilizing an inquiry-based curriculum. Mitchell’s inquiry based lessons and innovative classroom environment have allowed her students to lead the district on benchmarks and state assessments.  She seeks to be a life-long learner as evidenced by her quote on her class webpage, “I love teaching because they teach me something new every day while I am teaching them the concepts of math.”  Her willingness to take risks and learn from her students has strengthened the mathematical discourse and level of perseverance in her classroom.



Ashley Jacobs (High School) begins each year reminding her students that they are all “math people” and will succeed if they try.  Beginning her fifth year teaching at Summerville High School, Jacobs has played a key role in implementing new strategies across the district. Her energy and excitement is contagious with colleagues as well as students, pushing all to take risk in their thinking.  Students enjoy her class because of her efforts to make math meaningful through station-rotations, hands-on activities with manipulatives, and real-world connections.  Her impact on student engagement led to her selection by the student body as the Best All-Around Math Teacher of 2018-19.  Jacobs is an excellent example of a young educator is a true “teacher at heart.”




Dr. Malia Dunn (Professional)  has served as a teacher in elementary, middle and post-secondary classrooms across the state, teaching some of our most gifted and at-risk math students.  Her exceptional ability to connect with her students to change their mindset about mathematics has led to her current role as instructional coach at River Oaks Middle School.  By creating a positive and innovative learning environment, Dunn supports her teachers through developing collaborative groups using data to inform instructional decisions. Her experience as a national facilitator influences her ability to lead teachers to improve student engagement and motivation within their classrooms.  Dunn’s own passion for learning innovative classroom techniques has not only influenced math classrooms but also the school as a whole.  with her passion and positive attitude.



Dorchester School District Four award winners


Ivory Howard (Elementary) is a 5th grade math teacher at Harleyville Elementary School and has been teaching for 11 years. She earned a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education at Claflin University and a Master’s in Education at Southern Wesleyan University.  She has attended Reflex Math, “Rigor:  Teaching for a Deeper Understanding,” and Balanced Math framework professional development workshops.  Howard has the ability to instill a love of Mathematics within her students through engaging and creative lessons.  She is able to build lessons based on state standards and curriculum while ensuring these lessons are rigorous, allowing students to increase their problem solving and thinking skills.  She communicates well with students, staff members and parents, creating a positive classroom culture.  She seeks out opportunities to increase her knowledge and ability as a math teacher, which allows her to bring new ideas into her classroom each year.  She differentiates instruction based on students’ ability levels, allowing all students to show growth throughout the year.


Rebecca Steedley (Middle School) is a 6th grade math teacher for St. George Middle School. She has been teaching for 38 years and has earned a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Purdue University and has earned 18 graduate credit hours.  She has attended an Escape Room Workshop, STEM Workshops, PBL, Data Driven Workshops, and Summer Institute.  Steedley goes over and beyond to help her students. She gives up her planning time to assist struggling students, provides ample resources for them to take home, and keeps parents well informed about what is being taught weekly.





Brittany Wright Sibert (High School) is a high school teacher at Woodland High School and has been teaching math for 7 years. She has a Masters of Education and has taught Algebra 1 for the past 3 years and Algebra 2 Honors and Algebra 2 CP.  She currently serves on Woodland High’s curriculum advisory board, in which she assists with building the curriculum for the math department.  She was the 2013-2014 Rookie Teacher of the Year and Wolverine of the Month (Renaissance Program).  She is a vital part of the professional learning community, sharing her expertise from state math meetings, Textbook Caravan, Mastery Connect boot camp, WHS 4 Day Curriculum Institute, bi-weekly professional development, and PLC lead teacher.  She is the epitome of the school’s motto, “Excellence is the standard.”  She leads by example and goes above and beyond to ensure her students and colleagues adequately understand the standards and indicators.  She values the importance of teaching the entire learner and tailors her instruction to meet the needs of each learner.


Nicole Bryant (Professional) is an Instructional Coach at Clay Hill Elementary School.  Bryant works diligently with math teachers throughout the school year.  As a result, the quality of lessons has improved and student performance has increased.  She planned and facilitated monthly data meetings and professional development sessions with teachers.  She also attended district-level curriculum planning sessions, the SC Early Childhood Association Conference, and many other workshops.  She has a passion for education and works continuously to find ways to improve the quality of education for students by researching best practices, analyzing data, and collaborating with teachers.




Other Nominees by School District


Berkeley County School District Nominees

April Ash 

Current Position: Devon Forest Elementary, 5th grade math and science.

Years Teaching: 15

Education: Charleston Southern , Bachelors in Elementary Education +18

Past Teaching Experience: Berkeley Intermediate, 3rd grade; Devon Forest, 4th and 5th grade.

Fun Fact: “I went sky diving in Hawaii once, but I will never do it again!”



Anna Brewster

Current Position: Cane Bay Elementary, 3rd grade GT teacher.

Years Teaching: 3

Education: University of South Carolina, Bachelor’s in Elementary Education.

Past Teaching Experience: Three years at Cane Bay Elementary in Berkeley County.

Fun Fact: “I went to high school where the movie ‘Radio’ takes place and know him very well.”




Miranda McCune

Current Position: Stratford High School math teacher.

Years Teaching: 18

Education: Coker College, Bachelor’s in Mathematics Education; Southern Wesleyan University, Master’s in Education.

Past Teaching Experience: 3 years at Berkeley High, 11 years at Summerville High, 5 years at Stratford High; all as a math teacher.

Fun Fact: “I’ve driven in 23 of 50 states.  As far west as New Mexico, as far north as Minnesota and up into the Northeast.”




Emily Spitzmiller

Current Position: Hanahan Elementary School , 1st grade.

Years Teaching: 3

Education: College of Charleston, Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education.

Teaching Experience: 3 years at Hanahan Elementary School.

Fun Fact: “I teach barre workout classes part time!”



Brittni Union

Current Position: College Park Elementary School, 5th grade.

Years Teaching: 5

Education: Columbia College, Bachelor’s in Elementary Education, minor in Spanish.

Past Teaching Experience: 5 years with Berkeley County School District

Fun Fact: “I can solve a Rubik’s Cube.  My kids always get a kick out it!!”




Charleston County School District Nominees

Jason Aldridge 

Current Position: West Ashley High School, instructional coach.

Years Teaching: 10

Education: University of South Carolina, Masters in Teaching and Administration; Doctor’s in Curriculum and Instruction.

Past Teaching Experience: Richland School District Two, SC, math teacher; Dorchester School District Two, math teacher; Charleston County School District, math teacher.

Fun Fact: “Math was not nice to me in high school, but over the years we have become great friends!”


Amber Buehler

Current Position: Cario Middle School – 8th grade Math/Algebra.

Years Teaching: 10

Education: University of South Carolina, Bachelor’s in Middle Level Education; University of South Florida, Master’s in Middle Level STEM Education.

Past Teaching Experience: Bay Point Middle School, St. Petersburg, FL, MSAP teacher and department head (drop out prevention program), 6th, 7th, 8th grade Math teacher.

Fun Fact: “I was born on an Army base in Kansas!”


Caroline Stalvey 

Current Position: Wando High School, math teacher of Foundations and Intermediate Algebra.

Years Teaching: 6

Education: Clemson University, Bachelor’s in Secondary Education and Bachelor’s in Mathematical Sciences; Furman University, Master’s in School Leadership; T.L. Hanna High School, Anderson SC, math teacher.

Fun Fact: “I love to run for exercise and have completed two half marathons!”




Dorchester School District Two Nominees

Elizabeth Beerbower

Current Position: Flowertown Elementary, 5th grade GATE Math, Science, and Social Studies.

Years Teaching: 11

Education: West Virginia University, Masters in Elementary Education specializing in Mathematics.

Fun Fact: Ms. Beerbower created math lessons and instructional videos that are featured in LearnZillion’s math curriculum. She has also led professional development for teachers throughout the United States who are implementing Eureka Math.




Crystal Beyer

Current Position: Knightsville Elementary School, 5th grade GATE math.

Years Teaching: 14

Education: Florida State University, Bachelor’s degree.

Past Teaching Experience: Canoe Creek Charter Elementary School, K-2 math teacher, St. Cloud, FL; Bonneville Elementary School, 5th grade, Orlando, FL; Sedgefield Intermediate School, 3rd, 4th, 5th grade math interventionist, 4th grade teacher, 5th grade Math teacher, BCSD.

Fun Fact: “I have taught math to all elementary level children! K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 grades!”


Reagan Briggs

Current Position: Eugene Sires Elementary School, 5th grade teacher.

Years Teaching: 9

Education: East Carolina University, Bachelor’s in Elementary Education, Master’s in Reading Education.

Past Teaching Experience:  2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade teacher at Sugg Bundy Elementary, North Carolina.

Fun Fact: “I lived in Germany and Hawaii for most of my years as an elementary student.”



Brittany Butler

Current Position: Ashley Ridge High School, Math teacher.

Years Teaching: 7

Education: University of South Carolina, Master’s of Teaching in Secondary Mathematics.

Past Teaching Experience: Gregg Middle School, ACE Math teacher.

Fun Fact: “I have three pets – a Great Dane named Heidi, a German Shepard named Charlie, and a black cat named Loki.”



Adair Craig

Current Position: Ashley Ridge High School, Math teacher.

Years Teaching: 14

Education: Clemson University, Bachelor’s in Secondary Education Mathematics; Converse College, Master’s in Secondary Education Mathematics.

Past Teaching Experience: James F. Byrnes High School, Spartanburg, SC; Pendleton High School, Anderson, SC; South Pointe High School, York County, SC, and Ashley Ridge High School, DD2, Math Department chair.

Fun Fact: “I love going deep sea fishing with my family in my free time.”


Megan Hartley

Current Position: Eagle Nest Elementary, 4th grade.

Years Teaching: 4

Education: College of Charleston, Elementary Education.

Fun Fact: “Cabbage is my favorite food.”




Amy Hilton

Current Position: Summerville Elementary School, 5th grade teacher.

Years Teaching: 12

Education: USC-Aiken, Bachelor’s in Elementary Education; Ashford University, Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction.

Past Teaching Experience: Teacher at Busbee Elementary, Forest Hills Elementary, Summerville Elementary.

Fun Fact: “I can touch my nose with my tongue.”



Melissa Jackson

Current Position: Flowertown Elementary School, 2nd grade teacher.

Years Teaching: 23

Education: College of Charleston, Bachelor’s in Education; Leslie University, Master’s in Teaching Technology.

Past Teaching Experience: Charleston County, First Baptist School; and in North Carolina.

Fun Fact: “I played soccer at the College of Charleston. I was the goalie.”



Angela Kelley

Current Position: Gregg Middle School, 7th and 8th grade Algebra 1 Honors and Geometry Honors.

Years Teaching: 23

Education: University of Middle Tennessee, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction; Kennesaw State University, Bachelor’s in Education, Middle Math and Science.

Past Teaching Experience: Alston Middle School, SC, math; Double Churches Middle School, GA, math and reading.

Fun Fact: “I love going out on the boat and traveling with friends and family.



Caroline Menhenett

Current Position: Alston Middle School, 6th grade Math and 6th grade Gate Math.

Years Teaching:  6

Education: Bowling Green State University, Bachelor’s in Education, Middle School Math and Science.

Past Teaching Experience: Alston Middle School, 8th grade Math.

Fun Fact: “Friends is my favorite TV show!”




Alaina Nixon

Current Position: Alston Bailey Elementary, 4th grade Math, Science, Social Studies.

Years Teaching: 4

Education: Charleston Southern University, Bachelor’s in Elementary Education; Walden University, Educational Leadership and Administration.

Fun Fact: “I enjoy spending time with my two boys and my husband. In my free time I enjoy crafting and shopping.”





Deb Runyon

Current Position: Oakbrook Middle School, 6th grade Math

Years Teaching:  38

Education: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Master’s in Education.

Past Teaching Experience: Volunteered and worked in schools in Virginia, Georgia, Maryland and California. Has taught every grade and subject at Oakbrook Middle School.

Fun Fact: “I sing bass in an acapella barbershop chorus.”



Dorchester School District Four

Isaac Lowrance

Current Position: Woodland High School, Algebra 1 and Math Essentials. 

Years Teaching: 3

EducationCharleston Southern University, Bachelor’s in Secondary Math Education,  Master’s in Secondary Administration and Supervision.

Past Teaching Experience: R.B Stall high school, Geometry and Algebra Skills. Ashley Ridge High School, Math Essentials, Geometry, Probability and Statistics.

Fun Fact: “I met my wife at CSU during a Fellowship of a Christian Athletes event.”


Amanda Wozniak 

Current Position: Williams Memorial Elementary, 5th grade Math.

Years Teaching: 12

Education: TriState University in Angola, IN, Bachelor’s in Elementary Education.

Past Teaching Experience: 12 years at Williams Memorial, 5th grade Math and 3rd grade self-contained.

Fun Fact: “I won a state championship for high school soccer back in Michigan and received a full ride scholarship to play soccer in college.”