UNION — A local middle school teacher was officially recognized for making magic.
Magic 98.9 FM has an ongoing contest — called “Teachers Who Make Magic” — to find special teachers to recognize. The radio station’s website describes the search as follows:
“Magic 98.9 needs your help in seeking out those terrific people that teach us, guide us, love us and make us smarter whether we want it or not for our 2012/2013 school year.”
When Jared Gilstrap found out about the contest, he immediately wrote a letter to nominate his wife, Susan, who teaches at Sims Middle School.
“My wife Susan Gilstrap is the most dedicated, loved and respected teacher I know,” Jared began his letter to Magic 98.9. “She is very passionate about doing what is BEST for children.”
Susan has taught for 15 years, and she just moved to Sims from Foster Park Elementary at the beginning of this school year. Jared explained.
“A 15-year veteran teacher, Susan most recently looped with her class from 4th to 5th grade. At the end of 5th grade (this past May), her students had to leave the elementary school to go to the middle school. Many of her students cried (as did my wife!!) about having to leave her class because she was like a second mother to them. Susan worried about her students ALL summer, and a week before school started, she choose to leave the job she loved to teach at the middle school so her students would transition more easily with her being there. Parents of her students were ECSTATIC to say the least!”
Jared went on to explain that his wife juggles her duties — as a teacher and a mom of three young children — with finesse.
“She embraces her students and their families to the point that they feel like they are parts of OUR family!” Jared wrote. “It is not unusual for parents to call Susan at home at ANY time about ANY thing, and Susan never complains.”
Jared also mentioned what it’s like to live in a small town and run into students away from school.
“When we go anywhere in town, we ALWAYS run in to SEVERAL of her former students, and without fail, I always hear at least one say, ‘You were and always will be my favorite teacher,’” he wrote.
Jared closed the nomination letter by writing that his wife makes magic happen in every aspect of her career.
“Her standardized test scores are always the highest in our school district, but most importantly, she is respected as a teacher, mentor and friend to all,” he wrote. “Union County is lucky to have Susan Gilstrap as a teacher.”
Jared’s letter got the attention of Magic 98.9, and Susan was named the “Teacher Who Makes Magic” for the month of November.
Susan had no idea she had even been nominated until representatives from Magic 98.9 and Family Dental Health (the contest sponsor) came to her classroom with Principal Mickey Connolly to announce the good news. They brought Susan balloons, an edible arrangement, a $350 gift certificate for teeth whitening, a family season pass for the Upstate History Museum, a Wal-Mart gift card and tickets for tonight’s Trans-Siberian Orchestra show in Greenville.
“I was blown away,” Susan said. “It made me cry, and the kids in my class just went wild!”
A video of the entire surprise announcement in the classroom can be seen online by going to www.magic989online.com and clicking the link called “Teachers Who Make Magic.” To see the video, click “November teacher — Ms. Gilstrap.”
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.