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Teachers of the Year!

Teachers of the Year



Jennifer Martin is Lexington Four Early Childhood Center’s 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year!  Martin has been teaching in the district since 2007, starting at Swansea Primary School. She taught 3 and 4th grade at Sandhills Elementary, and now serves at the ECC, where she has been for over 5 years. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education at Xavier University in 2006. In 2013, she received her lower elementary Montessori certificate from Lander, and went on to get her primary Montessori certificate from Sandhills Montessori Institute (SMI) in 2015.  Martin taught classes at SMI in 2019.  She has also served as a mentor to new teachers in the district and serves on the ECC’s leadership team.  She is considered a vital contributor and collaborator to the school’s professional learning community. Principal Lisa Evans says it is inspiring to see her working with the children. “She deeply connects with and understands children. She is their advocate. It is simply her gift.”



Emily Petrey is Sandhills Primary School’s 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year!  Petrey is a graduate of The University of South Carolina, earning her Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education and Masters of Education in Teaching and Learning. She began her teaching career in 2014 and has been with Sandhills Primary since 2017. Petrey attended Lexington Four schools and is a Swansea High School graduate. She serves in her school as a team leader, curriculum task force member, and UofSC practicum student host teacher. Her colleagues recognize her as a “quiet leader with strong principles and beliefs about teaching and learning.” Mrs. Carter, SPS Principal, shares that Ms. Petrey’s classroom is a “reflection of her steady leadership and student-centered approach,” and goes on to say that one of her “most valuable characteristic is her compassion and empathy for each student, particularly those who need it most.”



Renee Ulmer is Sandhills Elementary School’s 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year!  Ulmer started her teaching career in Lexington Four in 2013 and teaches 3rd grade. She graduated from Clemson University with a bachelor’s degree in graphic communications and went on to earn her Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of South Carolina.  She is a team leader in her school and a mentor to teaching interns. Her principal, Patty Carter, comments that Ulmer’s “commitment to student growth led her to advocate for the development of a curriculum workforce team this past year. She collaborated with fellow team members to create parent communications specific to our unit assessments.”  She has been described as a learner, collaborator, and leader with an engaging approach to education and genuine interest in her students. 



Miranda Cox is Frances Mack Intermediate School’s 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year!  Cox began her teaching career in Lexington Four and is in her 4th year of teaching 5th grade. She holds a holds a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Lander University. Ms. Cox serves in several leadership roles in her school, including team leader, teacher cabinet member, mentor teacher, and curriculum development team member. Principal Bryan Evans shares that Ms. Cox is a “vital contributor and collaborator to our professional learning community at FMIS. She develops important professional relationships and provides leadership by working with parents, administrators, and colleagues for the purpose of making the entire school a positive and productive learning environment for students. She values professional growth and strives to learn new ways to improve her effectiveness to serve the educational needs of young people. She is, indeed, an on-going learner herself.”



Jill Winland is Sandhills Middle School’s 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year!  She began her teaching career 14 years ago in Lexington Four. She earned her undergraduate degree from Ohio University and her graduate degree from Columbia College. She is currently pursuing her administration certification. Winland has been teaching 7th and 8th grade mathematics and algebra during her time at SMS and serves as the school’s math interventionist this year. She serves on the school’s leadership team and has participated in several leadership activities including the Noyce Fellows Program through University of South Carolina. Winland has been recognized previously as Lexington Four’s Teacher of the Year. One of her previous administrators points out that her “disciplined self-leadership, passion for learning, heart for service, and commitment to help others excel are the embodiment of Lexington Four’s core values.”



Denise Myers is Swansea High Freshman Academy’s 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year!  Denise Myers is another familiar face in Lexington Four and an alumna of Swansea High School.  Myers earned her undergraduate degree from Benedict College and two master’s degrees from Walden University and Jones International University, respectively.   Mrs. Myers’ teaching career has spanned 19 years, and her dedication to the students of Swansea and Gaston has earned her the privilege of the title of Teacher of the Year three times and the SCBEA Middle School Teacher of the Year.  She also served as the South Carolina Business Education Association Vice President (2017) and the Program Coordinator (2019).  According to Dawn Sargent, SHFA principal, “Mrs. Myers is a vital member of the SHFA faculty.  Her desire to ensure each student is successful and ready for the work force is revealed in how she supports and promotes all aspects of the school community.”



Jason Furtick is Swansea High School’s 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year!  He attended Lexington Four schools and is a Swansea High School graduate.  Furtick earned his Bachelor of Arts in History from The University of South Carolina in 2008, and began his career with Lexington Four in 2010 as an instructional shadow for a student at Swansea High School.  He began teaching in 2015 while completing his teaching certification through the South Carolina Department of Education’s Program of Alternative Certification for Educators.  He teaches U.S. and World History, Economics,  Western Civilization, and Law Education classes. Furtick has served as a member of the Swansea Tiger football coaching staff for over 10 years. One of Coach Furtick’s former administrators describes him as a “servant leader who has enriched the Lexington Four community for many years serving in multiple roles and responsibilities. Whether in the classroom or on the athletics fields, he is first and foremost a teacher with a servant’s heart seeking to help others in their journey through life.”