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      Socastee High teacher a finalist for SC Teacher of the Year

      Jennifer Ainsworth

      Dr. Mick Zais, the state Superintendent of Education, announced that an Horry County teacher is among five finalists for South Carolina Teacher of the Year.

      The winner will be announced at the annual Teacher of the Year Gala on April 23 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.

      Jennifer Ainsworth is a high school moderate special needs teacher at Socastee High School.

      The other finalists include John "Jed" Dearybury, a 2nd grade teacher in Spartanburg, Rhonda Hudak, a 7th grade English teacher in Rock Hill, Patrick Kelly, a 12th grade government teacher in Richland County, and Vivian "Beth" Tuten, a high school special education teacher in Lexington County.

      The finalists were chosen out of a field of 50,000 classroom teachers.

      They were selected by a panel of educators and private citizens.

      Ainsworth and the other finalists will now travel to Columbia for personal interviews with a seven-member state selection committee.

      South Carolina's Teacher of the Year gets the use of a new BMW for a year and a $25,000 cash award.

      The winner also participates in a one-year residency program at the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement (CERRA) and will serve as a statewide ambassador for the profession.

      The other four finalists, known as Honor Roll teachers, will each receive $10,000. There will also be school district teachers of the year, and each of these educators will receive $1,000.