A Berkeley Elementary School teacher has taken the top honor as Berkeley County School District’s Teacher of the Year.

Stephanie Wallace, who teaches a multi-age class of first- and second-graders, was chosen from 41 school-level Teachers of the Year. Other finalists were Heather Bradshaw of Hanahan Elementary and Meg Ward of Stratford High.

“I feel so blessed that I can wake up every day and say that I love my job and it is not work,” Wallace said. “I cannot imagine doing anything else.”

Wallace said she often played school as a child. She also participated in a Teacher Cadet program during high school, where she was told that she had a gift for teaching.

“I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember,” she said. “Impacting students and building a love for learning within each of them is all I could ever dream of.”

Wallace is a North Carolina native who has taught in Berkeley County since graduating from the College of Charleston eight years ago.

“I always saw myself returning to North Carolina after graduation,” she said. “However, my student teaching experience in Berkeley County was a blessing as it opened a new door for the next exciting chapter of my life.”

She said she believes character is at the core of creating well-rounded individuals who show compassion and acceptance of others and the world around them. She was instrumental in helping Berkeley Elementary become one of 28 schools to be named a 2012 National School of Character.

“I feel my greatest contributions to the profession are my efforts with integrating character education into the classroom and the multi-age program that I teach,” she said. “This program allows me to reach children through a nontraditional, differentiated and integrated approach to ensure that every child finds their niche and can reach their fullest potential.”

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713