Top teacher

Kathy Saunders Green came down from the stage into a sea of her fourth-grade students, dressed in green in honor of her, for a group hug Thursday after she was named Dorchester District 2 Teacher of the Year. She teaches at Summerville Elementary School.

SUMMERVILLE -- Kathy Saunders Green's fourth-grade students aren't surprised their teacher was named Dorchester District 2's 2010 Teacher of the Year.

"She's the best teacher in the world," said 9-year-old Weston Bison, one the students in Green's class for gifted and talented students at Summerville Elementary School.

Many of Green's students and colleagues attended the Teacher of the Year celebration Thursday at Ashley Ridge High School. Winning teachers from each of the suburban district's 22 schools were honored at the event, and Green was announced as the district's top teacher.

Green said her philosophy of teaching is simple: "Every child has a voice and every voice is heard."

Summerville Elementary Principal Lori Dibble said Green simply has natural talent working with children. "She has an incredible ability to make every child feel special, no matter what," Dibble said.

Green was selected from among five finalists, who were chosen from among Teachers of the Year from each of the district's schools.

The other four finalists were Cindy Curtis, an English teacher at Windsor Hill Arts Infused

Elementary School; Vivian Jones, a vocal music teacher at Summerville High School; Laura Knotts, an English teacher at Fort Dorchester High School; and Tammy Ratliff, an English teacher at Rollings Middle School of the Arts.

Superintendent Joe Pye said the Teachers of the Year are special employees who can turn around an "I-hate-school attitude." Great teachers are especially important in these tough economic times when school budgets are being cut drastically, he said.

Green's student Jordan Ball, 10, wasn't thinking about school budgets or teaching philosophies when he came to the celebration to see if his teacher would receive the district's top honor.

He was thinking about how she helps him learn. "She sings and dances to help us remember things," he said.

The district also recognized its top first-year "Rookie Teachers of the Year" at the event. They were Matthew Peebles, DuBose Middle School; Emily Schultz, Fort Dorchester High; Elizabeth Calabrese, Summerville High; and Kayana Hawkins; Windsor Hill Arts Infused Elementary.