Friday, May 3, 2013
When the 2013 Georgetown County Teacher of the Year is crowned next week, the winner will be an elementary school teacher.
That’s because all five finalists are teachers in that grade level.
One of them is Nicole Watts, the physical education teacher at Pleasant Hill Elementary.
Now in her 12th year as an educator, Watts said she had no idea PE would be her career choice until she was in the 11th grade at the former Pleasant Hill High School.
“I had Barry Triplett as a PE teacher. He really believed in his students. I did not have a lot of self confidence at the time but he encouraged me,” she said.
By that time, Watts had been playing on the volleyball, basketball and track teams for two years. But, she said, it was Triplett’s prodding that helped her excel.
“I knew then I wanted to have the same impact on other students,” she said.
Watts, after graduating PHHS, earned a degree from Coastal Carolina University and her Masters from Columbia College.
She wanted to work in her home county but she was hired by Williamsburg County and spent seven years at Chavis Elementary and a year at Hemingway Elementary before being hired at PHES four years ago.
“It was all in God’s timing,” Watts said. “I knew it would work out when He was ready for it to work out.”
Watts said one thing she always keeps in mind when working with her students is at their age, the have to be shown love.
“They know I love them and want them to succeed and because they know that, they give their best efforts.”
She said because she teaches kindergarten through 5th graders, she has a variety of activities to keep them moving. Things such as golf, hockey, basketball, ultimate Frisbee and fitness testing.
Watts said her efforts to keep kids healthy are now made easier because the school’s cafeteria now serves healthier meals. She said there have been drastic changes to the menu and the only thing still fried is fish.
Watts balances her career with her family and church lives. She and her husband, Michael have two children, ages 8 and 6.
At Rose Hill Baptist Church she teaches elementary students on Sunday morning and Sunday night.
She is also on the missions team and helps organize the Operation Christmas Child program for the church each year.
She said she hopes to stay at PHES until she retires.
“We truly are a family,” she said.
By Scott Harper