LOCKHART — Shelley Vaughan is Lochart School’s 2012-2013 Teacher of the Year.
Vaughan earned a Bachelor of Arts in communication from Winthrop University in 1991, but teaching did not become part of her plans until she had a child of her own.
“I discussed with my husband the possibility of quitting my job and going back to school, and we decided that it would be the right move for our family,” Vaughan said. “While in school, I was a substitute teacher and really enjoyed being in the classroom and around children. This reassured me that I had made the right decision to become a teacher.”
Vaughan attended Winthrop during the fall 2005 semester and went on to earn a Master of Arts in early childhood education from Converse College in 2008. She began teaching first grade at Foster Park Elementary School in 2009, and then at Lockhart School in 2010.
Lockhart Principal Betsy Trakas said she has had the opportunity to observe Vaughan’s commitment to the students for the last few years.
“To Shelley, being a teacher is much more than simply being an instructor,” Trakas said. “She conducts herself as a member of a school family who gladly shoulders her share of responsibility for the overall well-being of the school.”
Trakas also said students in Vaughan’s class feel they can succeed, and they do.
“Mrs. Vaughan plans thoughtfully with the strengths and needs of each student in mind,” Trakas said. “She has often discussed with me specific challenges in the classroom and her plans for addressing them. I recall that she recently came into my office with a cheer that most teachers reserve for Friday afternoon or pay day. Shelley was celebrating a struggling reader’s having finally, successfully read on grade level.”
Vaughan echoed the cheer Trakas described when she was asked to discuss a moment in which she felt rewarded by her teaching career.
“When one of my students is struggling with reading and they reach the point where it starts to click with them; and to see the look on their little faces when they are successful with reading a book on their own, without any assistance,” Vaughan said. “That has to be one of the most rewarding times in teaching.”
Vaughan said her students’ self esteem is very important to her, and she wants each of her students to feel special and loved in her classroom.
“If my students get out of their seats to come and give me a hug, I make sure that I am receptive to their feelings and not reprimand them for being out of their seats,” she said. “We cannot assume that all children live in a loving and nurturing environment. I want my students to remember me as a teacher who cared about them and their education.”
Vaughan also said students’ success in school can depend on the amount of help they receive at home.
“It is crucial for parents to take education seriously and do their part to make sure their child is successful in education and in life,” she said, mentioning the importance of parents helping young children with homework and reading to them each night. “Children need to know that a parent sees the importance of education.”
Trakas said Vaughan instills important life lessons in students at every grade level: they can achieve, everyone has responsibilities and that school and learning can be fun.
“Shelley Vaughan is the teacher students see working with the PTO or School Improvement Council, going to book study with her colleagues, or selling tickets at basketball games,” Trakas said. “She is also the one who is cheering at the pep rally, dressed as Huck Finn for the Storybook Character Parade, or singing ‘The Chipmunk’s Song’ at the Christmas assembly.”
Vaughan takes on numerous responsibilities as treasurer of the PTO board and member of the School Improvement Council. She also stays active outside of school by teaching Sunday School and leading Awana at Philippi Baptist Church.
“Shelley Vaughan’s accomplishments and contributions to her school are many, however, they are made all the more outstanding by the attitude with which she carries out her duties and the enthusiasm with which she takes on extra responsibilities,” Trakas said.
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at email@example.com.