When Beech Hill Elementary School teacher Jennifer Fusco was named Dorchester District 2 Teacher of the Year Thursday, it made many wonder what is going on at the school.
Fusco, a fifth-grade Gifted and Talented and English and language arts teacher, succeeds fellow Beech Hill Beacon Kelly Wanish in the post.
Asked what was in the water that caused her school to produce two Teachers of the Year in a row, Principal Rene Harris said, “I don’t know. It seems like they’re all either Teacher of the Year, planning a wedding or having a baby.”
Fusco, who is in her fifth year of teaching, got an early start in her profession. When her family moved to rural Logan, W.Va., Fusco’s identical twin sister, who is deaf, did not have the support of a resource teacher or an interpreter.
“For weeks, I was her interpreter,” Fusco said. “I was her teacher. Even as a third-grader, I knew she needed more support than the regular classroom teacher provided. ... It was during those months in Logan that I decided I was destined to be a teacher.”
Fusco was a teacher cadet at Fort Dorchester High School and a South Carolina Teaching Fellow at the College of Charleston. She was Beech Hill’s Rookie Teacher of the Year in 2009 and became a National Board Certified teacher in November.
Fusco “often speaks to her students in sign language,” Harris said. “Her nonverbal tools are imbedded into her communication style and mode of delivery. She speaks from her boundless, open and sincere heart.”
Fusco was named from among five honor teachers selected from the 22 school-level Teachers of the Year. The other four were Kayana Hawkins, fifth-grade math, science and social studies teacher at Windsor Hill Arts Infused Elementary; Jessica Nealious, third-grade ELA teacher at Fort Dorchester Elementary; Jennifer Roberts, ninth-12th-grade math teacher at Summerville High; and Carol Staines, Special Education-Inclusion English teacher at Ashley Ridge High.
In addition, four Rookie Teachers of the Year were recognized. They are Mary Leigh Spicher of Newington Elementary, Anthony Pieretti of Ashley Ridge High, Lesley Brantley of DuBose Middle and Rachael Beebe of Oakbrook Middle.