As a military brat, Emilie Woody moved around a lot. Making friends didn’t come easy and she dreaded having to make a new group of friends each time she moved.
So to entertain herself in times of transition between friends she would pretend to be a teacher, happily educating her little brother along with her stuffed animals.
Woody’s life-long love of teaching was rewarded Thursday night when Charleston County School District officials named her as the district’s Teacher of the Year. The award was bestowed during a Charleston RiverDogs game at Riley Park.
As Teacher of the Year, Woody will receive a one-year lease on a Mini Cooper along with other prizes.
Woody is a library media specialist at Wando High School. She began her career as a middle school teacher in 1989 in Greenville. Woody joined the faculty at Wando in 2002 as a teacher and softball coach before becoming a librarian in 2005.
In her application for the teaching award, Woody said she sees her role as a librarian as someone who removes “the barriers that might keep students and teachers from being successful.”
Woody has done that by spearheading an effort to allow students to bring their own technology devices, such as iPads, to school. And in 2011 she successfully defended the inclusion of the book “The Hunt Club” in the school’s library after some parents raised concerns about the novel’s use of foul language and descriptions of women and people of color.
As for what makes a great teacher, Woody thinks it’s someone who knows when to seize an opportunity to teach.
“I think an outstanding teacher is someone who recognizes teachable moments as they are occurring and puts forth the energy to capitalize on them before they escape,” Woody said.
The runner-up for Teacher of the Year was Denisse Standbery of C.E. Williams Middle School. Other finalists for the district’s top teaching award were Mary Ashlie Barnes of Oakland Elementary School, Dana Monahan of Hunley Park Elementary School and Amy Ryan of Charles Pinckney Elementary School.