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YCHS's Rick Whitmore Named Finalist for SC Teacher of the Year

Rick Whitmore Finalist SC Teacher of the Year State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman surprised York Comprehensive High School teacher, Richard Whitmore, today with news that he has been selected as one of five finalists for the South Carolina Teacher of the Year award.  


"Rick demonstrates everyday the importance of students not only having the content knowledge to be successful but also the global perspective that helps make students productive citizens and lifelong learners," said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman.


Superintendent Spearman and York One superintendent, Kelly Coxe, joined York Comprehensive High principal, Ryan Poston, Whitmore, and other York Comprehensive teachers on a Zoom meeting to make the surprise announcement.


Richard Whitmore teaches ninth through twelfth grade Spanish at York Comprehensive High School. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in international studies from Ohio State University and his master's degree in Spanish from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He has been teaching for fifteen years.  Richard holds a National Board of Professional Teaching certification in World Languages.


"We are thrilled that Mr. Whitmore is being recognized by our state as one of the best," said Kelly Coxe, superintendent of York School District One. "His passion and love for education impact our students and staff at York Comprehensive High School in a profound manner. Mr. Whitmore is not only a stellar teacher; he is an effective leader in our district. He is an incredibly effective advocate for the profession and embraces opportunities to speak eloquently about his students and their successes."


Richard sees himself as living proof of the tremendous impact that teachers have on the lives of the children they serve. Having endured childhood trauma at home and bullying at school, he credits his high school Spanish teacher – who deeply cared and believed in him – with his decision to become an educator. He designed the curriculum for the AP Spanish Language and Culture course at his former and current high schools. In his instruction of Spanish the term language acquisition replaces language learning as the focus of the lessons. This is achieved by combining innovative, data-driven strategies with the intentional development of a strong rapport with students. Richard believes that, to make use of acquired knowledge, students must possess the necessary soft skills to communicate effectively in the world. Educators must, not only model such skills, but also create opportunities for students to develop integrity, work ethic and perseverance, improve their interpersonal skills, and acquire a global perspective. 


As one of five finalists, Richard will receive $10,000 and go on to the next stage of competition which involves an interview with a team of expert judges. The winner will be announced at the South Carolina Teacher of the Year Gala, which has been postponed and will be rescheduled for later this year.


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 50,000 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 assist in retention efforts but serve as a powerful recruitment tool to the educator profession.