BUFFALO — A fifth grade teacher at Buffalo Elementary School got a very pleasant surprise recently when his fellow teachers voted him the school’s 2014 Teacher of the Year.
Paul Wells said he was inspired to go into teaching by the experiences of family members who were themselves teachers.
“My mother, numerous aunts and uncles and cousins were teachers,” Well said. “Hearing them share their experiences I could tell they enjoyed it.”
Wells, who has been a teacher since 2009, has spent his entire career at Buffalo Elementary where he teaches all subjects in the fifth grade. He said he originally planned only to teach math and science but was inspired by two of his fellow teachers to branch out into other subjects as well.
“When I started out I was more geared toward science and math,” Wells said. “Since I came here, two people who have had a big influence on me are Anne Rampey, a literacy coach, and Tammy Fisher, a media specialist. They’ve just made me fall in love with teaching reading and ELA (English/Language Arts).”
Wells said he chose to become a fifth grade teacher because it is such an important time in a child’s life and he wanted to play a positive role in the lives of his students.
“They seem like they are the most influenced at this age group and I wanted to make sure they had a proper role model,” Wells said. “By the time they get to middle school they are on the edge of becoming who they will be. I want to make sure they have the proper influence at this age to set them on the right track for the future.”
It is this devotion to the well-being of his students and his understanding of the critical role a teacher can play at this time in their lives that lead his fellow teachers at Buffalo Elementary to choose him as the school’s Teacher of the Year.
Fellow fifth grade teacher Kasi Wilson said that “Paul has a great relationship with his students, and he puts their needs first. He is dedicated, willing to share ideas with his fellow teachers, and makes the workplace fun.”
Second grade teacher Kelly Sanders said that Wells “takes the students he has and gets to know them individually. He cares not only about their education, but the person they are going to turn into.”
Sanders added that Wells “always does all of his work with a smile. His students love him and so do his colleagues.”
Fifth grade teacher Amy Petty said Wells “is always a team player, shares his resources and his time to help others. He is always willing to help out when he is needed in different areas in our school.”
Music teacher Heather Barnado described Wells as “a super teacher. He engages his students and builds an excellent classroom community. And his scores are awesome, too.”
Fifth grade teacher Allison Caviness said Wells is “always willing to help others. He does morning duty every morning without complaining. He is a great team player and co-worker.”
Principal Melissa Inman said that Wells “is a natural born teacher. His lessons are exciting and he keeps his children engaged all day long. The children have fun learning and so does Mr. Wells. It is great to have him as part of the Buffalo family.”
Wells thanked his colleagues for naming him Teacher of the Year saying he was both touched and surprised by the honor.
“It was surprising to me because it was something that was voted on by all the faculty and staff here at Buffalo,” Wells said. “It’s touching to know that so many think that highly of me.”
Prior to being named Teacher of the Year at Buffalo, Wells received an award in August 2013 for having an excellent rating on PASS in three out of four subjects for testing in the spring of that year; awards in August 2012 for having outstanding target growth on MAP teaching, excellent rating scores in ELA and Math on the 2012 PASS test, and perfect attendance for the 2012-2013 academic year.
Wells attended Francis Marion University from 2005-2009 for his undergraduate studies; USC Upstate in 2012 for a contract course with Union County Schools to give teachers the opportunity to become more aware and comfortable with computers and their use in the classroom; and mentor training at Winthrop University in the summer of 2012.
In addition his duties at Buffalo Elementary School — which includes serving as grade chairperson for the fifth grade — Wells is attending Converse College as a post-graduate student to earn a master’s degree in Administration and Supervision. Wells said these studies — which he will complete in 2015 — are part of his goal of positively influencing the lives of even more students by becoming a school administrator.
“Right now I’ve got one more year before I complete my master’s in Administration and Supervision at Converse,” Wells said. “When I finish that I want to go ahead and get a position as an assistant principal and work my way up to principal and even superintendent somewhere. I’ll then be able to influence even more children than I can in the classroom.”
Wells is married and his wife, Ashely, is also a teacher. She teaches sixth grade ELA at Sims Middle School.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.