Clayton Denio, a math and engineering teacher at Saluda Trail Middle School entering his 9th year in the classroom, was named Rock Hill Schools’ 2016-2017 District Teacher of the Year as part Friday’s back to school rally hosted by Northwestern High School.
Denio was selected as the district’s top teacher by a panel of community judges who were thoroughly impressed at the high caliber of teachers in the district. Also recognized at the rally were honor roll teachers Sondra Campbell and Andrea Allen. Campbell teaches fifth grade at Mount Holly Elementary and Allen is a reading recovery teacher at Finley Road Elementary.
As the district teacher of the year, Denio receives a 2016 Honda Civic for use during the upcoming school year courtesy of Honda Cars of Rock Hill, $1,500 from the district, and a $500 classroom grant from the Rock Hill Schools Education Foundation. He will serve as co-chair of the Rock Hill Schools teacher forum and is now in the running to be selected as the South Carolina Teacher of the Year. Campbell and Allen each received $250 from the district.
The three teachers each have a focus beyond the classroom and understand how connecting with students builds trust and improves performance at school.
“As a teacher I strive to assist students in reaching their maximum learning potential, owning their knowledge, and use that knowledge to make a contribution to our world,” said Denio.
This approach led Denio to adopt his school’s motto, “Real Learning. Real Life.” In the classroom, he strives to connect his students’ knowledge with real world applications. Through Saluda Trail’s project-based learning, his students have focused on issues such as hunger, energy, education, career readiness, and character development. He sees his work aligning seamlessly with the profile of the 21st century graduate, which is the emphasis of the South Carolina Department of Education and state superintendent Molly Spearman.
Denio, who was a Teacher Cadet and valedictorian at Lewisville High School, once dreamed of a career in engineering. After starting at Clemson, his passion for helping students was ignited and he transferred to Winthrop University where he earned his teaching credential. He recognizes many students today come from single-parent homes, a situation with which he is very familiar. His teenage years were spent taking care of his family while focusing on his academics and excelling in the classroom.
The rally also featured additional recognitions and presentations.
- Each year, the district recognizes a beginning teacher of the year at the elementary and secondary levels who finished their first year in the teaching profession in the prior school year. Ebinport Elementary fifth grade teacher Emma Wilson and South Pointe High English teacher Andra Mack were named Beginning Teachers of the Year.
- The Rock Hill Schools Education Foundation, represented by president Alice Davis, announced 27 grants totaling $20,620 to 48 teachers. The foundation promotes a collaborative alliance between the community and Rock Hill Schools to provide funding and other resources to support educational initiatives. For more information about Rock Hill School District Foundation, please visit http://rhsdfoundation.org.
- All school teachers of the year were recognized and presented a plaque.