Charleston County school officials on Friday named the five finalists for the Teacher of the Year competition.

The district's top five teachers were revealed in a day-long event where district officials visited each of the finalists' schools with flowers and a gift.

The finalists are Jaime Cunningham of Liberty Hill Academy; Kimberly Brown of Lincoln Middle-High School; Emma Armstrong of St. James-Santee Elementary School; Misty LeClerc of Wando High School; and Charles Atkins of Sanders-Clyde Creative Arts School.

Melissa Parrish, an administrator with the district's Office of Teacher Effectiveness, said the event allowed each finalist to be recognized by peers and students.

"It's an opportunity to bring it back to the school and celebrate at the school that they are the top five in the district," Parrish said, noting that each finalist was nominated by school colleagues.

The goal of the competition is to "recognize and reward highly effective teachers," Parrish said.

The winner will be announced at the May 1 Charleston RiverDogs game with a celebration that will include students and teachers from the winner's school. A selection panel made up of teachers, educators and administrators from inside and outside the district will choose a winner based on classroom observation, interviews and each finalists' application.

Parrish said the Teachers Roundtable selects finalists through an anonymous scoring system based on a review of each candidate's application and letters of support. Each school in the district can nominate a Teacher of the Year.

Cunningham is a middle school teacher at Liberty Hill Academy in North Charleston that caters to students with special needs and behavioral problems. Cunningham earned a bachelor's degree from the College of Charleston.

Brown is an English teacher at Lincoln Middle-High in McClellanville where she serves as the chairwoman of the school's English Language Arts department. She earned her bachelor's degree from Coastal Carolina College.

Armstrong is a first-grade teacher at St. James-Santee Elementary in McClellanville. She earned her bachelor's degree at the College of Charleston and is pursuing her master's degree in education literacy.

LeClerc teaches AP microeconomics and AP United States government and politics at Wando High in Mount Pleasant. She earned her bachelor's degree at the College of Charleston.

Atkins is a drama teacher at Sanders-Clyde Creative Arts School in Charleston. He earned his bachelor's degree at Radford (Virginia) University and a master's degree in fine arts and theater from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

The district's Teacher of the Year will go on to compete in the state-level competition. The state winner receives a one-year lease on a Mini Cooper.

Reach Amanda Kerr at 937-5546.