County's top teacher to be named Thursday

  • Friday, May 11, 2012

The 2012 Georgetown County Teacher of the Year will be named Thursday night at a banquet in Litchfield.
The Georgetown Times spoke with the five finalists for the award this week. Here is a synopsis of what each had to say:

Kelly McCurry

The Waccamaw Elementary School teacher is in her 23rd year as an educator, a career that began in Greenville as a 6th grade instructor.
She also spent 13 years in Atlanta where she taught 2nd and 3rd grades and later served as a math coordinator for Cobb County.
McCurry – who, along with her husband Jerry has two sons in college — has been teaching 3rd grade at Waccamaw Elementary for the past five years.
As a child, being an educator is what McCurry always knew she wanted to do, she said, especially since both her mother and grandmother were teachers.
“I am doing my dream job,” McCurry said.
She especially loves teaching 3rd grade because the children are at an age where they are “excited about school and learning.”
McCurry said she enjoys the “ah ha moments.”
“That’s when what I am teaching finally clicks with them and you can see their face light up,” she said.

Jeff Mezzatesta

Mezzatesta is a social studies teacher at Carvers Bay High where he also serves as boys basketball and girls track coach.
He began his career in 1999 at Pleasant Hill High which combined with Choppee High the following year to become Carvers Bay High.
Mezzatesta spent two years teaching at Carvers Bay Middle before moving to the midlands and working at Swansea High School for three years.
He later returned to Georgetown County and to Carvers Bay Middle where he taught for one year before being transferred to Carvers Bay High where he teaches seniors.
He said he enjoys all of his duties but teaching is his passion, especially since it is in his genes. His great grandfather taught at a one-room schoolhouse and his parents were teachers at a school for the deaf and blind.
“I love every aspect of teaching. What pays my bills is my ability in the classroom, not my ability on the (basketball) floor,” Mezzatesta said.
Mezzatesta and his wife, Luann have a 4-year-old son, Asher.

Kristin Altman

Altman is a social studies teacher at Georgetown High, where she has been for the past four years.
During that time she has taught United States History and the Constitution, Global Studies I, Global Studies II, and Psychology.
She said teaching is a job that carries big responsibilities but “with the grand role of educating our youth also comes the supreme reward of seeing an individual overcome a struggle with reading comprehension (and) witnessing a student come to the realization that he can be exactly what he dreams of.”
It was Altman’s goal to be a teacher.
“I believe an education to be the single most paramount factor in determining the success of an individual. Regardless of one's community, social upbringing, ethnicity, or long-term goals, an education provides every human being with the opportunity to be successful in whatever facet of citizenship he chooses,” she said.
Altman said being a finalist is “incredibly exciting and humbling. I am so proud to represent all of the fantastic educators at Georgetown High School and look forward to the possibility of serving the Georgetown County School District in this position of honor.”
She is married to Bobbie Altman.

Mark Boesken Jr.

Boesken has taught 8th grade social studies and South Carolina History at Georgetown Middle School for the past four years.
Before moving to Georgetown from Buffalo, New York, he taught one year at a private school.
He said he and his wife, Lynette, decided to make the move south to explore job opportunities.
Boesken said he chose to be a teacher to help make a difference in the lives of young people.
“I am not looking for financial gain but the job is very rewarding,” he said.
He said he prefers teaching 8th graders because “they are at an impressionable age. They are trying to figure out who they are as a person. We can make a big impact on their lives.”
As for the subjects he teaches, Boesken said he has “always been a history fan and how history effects people.”
He was on lunch duty one day in March when he received a call on the radio from the principal. He was then surprised with the news he was a finalist.
“I was shocked. It was a pleasant surprise,” he said.

Danielle Black

For the past five years, Black has taught 2nd grade at Kensington Elementary School.
“I love working with children. That is why I went into teaching. I enjoy instilling in them knowledge they can take with them,” Black — a 2007 Coastal Carolina College graduate — said.
As for teaching 2nd graders, Black said she likes the age group because “they still enjoy coming to school.
They are a little more independent than kindergartners and are eager to learn.”
Black said she decided while she was in high school that she wanted to make teaching her career.
“In school I worked with a kindergarten class and that made me think about teaching,” she said, adding she had considered becoming a pediatrician
Black said she was shocked when district staff showed up in her classroom telling her she is a finalist.
“They came and surprised me in my class. The students were in awe and I was speechless,” she said.

By Scott Harper

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