A Marrington Elementary School teacher has been named Berkeley County's top teacher.

Lauren Reeder, 29, was named Teacher of the Year at a Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce breakfast on Friday.

Reeder was selected after she, Carolyn Mullinax of Boulder Bluff Elementary and Heather Ducker of Goose Creek High were named honor roll teachers earlier this month from among the district's school-level teachers of the year.

Reeder said her students "become part of my heart. That is what happens when you become a teacher. You stay late to grade papers. You go in on the weekends to make sure the bulletin board is ready for next week. You go to birthday parties, hug away hurt feelings, and listen to corny popsicle jokes."

And while doing that, "You spend seven hours a day trying to ignite the passion of learning in these children, all the while carefully balancing standards, character, and opening milk cartons," she said.

Reeder, of North Charleston, is in her first year of teaching second grade. She previously taught fifth grade for a year at Marrington and was a math interventionist for a year at Sangaree Elementary. Before that, she was a homeschool teacher for a family in Malawi, Africa, for two years and taught second grade at Woodland Elementary in Greer for three years.

She said she was inspired by her fourth-grade teacher, who showed "patience, love, and kindness toward me in spite of being a trying student.

"I knew in my heart that I wanted to make a difference in children's lives, invest in them and love them just as my teachers had done for me."

As a teacher, she said she will do almost anything to make learning fun.

"There is nothing like seeing a light go off for a child when they finally understand," she sais. "The love for theater and drama that my teachers cultivated plays a part in my classroom every day. If standing on a desk or hanging a bed sheet replica of the Berlin Wall in my classroom inspires my students to learn, then the hours and stress that went into preparing that lesson were worth it."

A graduate of North Greenville University, Reeder spends her summers volunteering with teens at a camp in North Carolina.

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.