State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman surprised Northwestern High School teacher, Susan Snyder, at her school today with news that she has been selected as one of five finalists for the South Carolina Teacher of the Year award.

“Susan is an outstanding educator whose passion for teaching is exhibited in her classroom each and every day,” said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. “Whether she is in her science class or at a swim meet, Susan is dedicated to supporting and engaging every student, every day.”

Susan Snyder is an 9th -12th grade Science teacher at Northwestern High School in Rock Hill Schools. Snyder is a National Board Certified educator who has served as a County Environmental Liaison for the past fourteen years and the recipient of several awards including being named the 2013-2014 Walt Schrader Environmental Educator of the Year. She believes her hardships as a learner turned into her greatest contributions to education and allow her to reach even her most struggling students.  Snyder believes each student has the capability to be an extraordinary learner and has been quoted as saying, “as educators, we have to plant the seed, create the environment to feed their desire, and commit to our jobs as servants,” Step into Susan’s classroom and you find a positive environment where students are celebrating each other’s uniqueness. This is culminated in a day of superlative awards for each student known as “Awards Day” which has become an annual tradition.

“We’re very proud to share this exciting day with Mrs. Snyder. She demonstrates daily the importance and value of forming relationships with students to bring to life content in her science classes at Northwestern High School. Recognizing that when students are having fun they’re learning, Mrs. Snyder consistently works to make her biology lessons applicable and relevant to her students’ daily lives. She engages her students with an unpredictable approach each day through music, performing skits, and singing songs, and they’re excited to return the next day. This year, she has taken a leading role with the Rock Hill Schools teacher forum to develop teacher recognition and retention programs.”

As one of five finalists, Snyder will receive $10,000 and go on to the next stage of competition which involves an in-person interview with a team of expert judges. The South Carolina Teacher of the Year Gala will be held May 2nd in Columbia where the overall winner will be crowned.

The winner receives a total of $25,000 and is provided with a brand new BMW to use while serving for one year as a roving ambassador providing mentoring, attending speaking engagements, working with Teacher Cadets and Teaching Fellows, leading the State Teacher Forum, and serving as the state spokesperson for over 48,000 educators.

The Teacher of the Year program celebrates excellence and strengthens the teaching force by honoring and recognizing exceptional teachers on the district, state, and national level. The Teacher of the Year Awards not only assists in retention efforts but serve as a powerful recruitment tool to the educator profession.