For the third year in a row, an alumna of the College of Charleston School of Education, Health, and Human Performance has been named Teacher of the Year for the Charleston County School District.

Jaime Cunningham '08, 2014 Charleston County Teacher of the Year

Jaime Cunningham ’08, 2014 Charleston County Teacher of the Year

The 2014 Teacher of the Year, Jaime Cunningham ’08, earned her degree in special education and teaches students in grades six through eight at Liberty Hill Academy. Lisa Trott ’91 was the 2013 Charleston County Teacher of the Year, and Nancy Dabit in 2012.

In addition to making an impact on the lives of her students, Cunningham is making an impact on future teachers. She consistently opens her classroom to College of Charleston clinical interns, and in 2012, she made quite an impact on Abby Sharpe, who interned with Cunningham while earning her Master of Arts in Teaching.

“I kept a journal along the way of things I learned from Jaime that I never want to forget,” Sharpe says. “One of those things that I think about almost daily is that it is such an honor to be a teacher. It is an honor to get to spend hours with students, learning about them, sharing life with them, laughing with them, opening their eyes to new opportunities, and caring for them.”

RELATED: In 2013, teacher education alumnae were named Teacher of the Year in all three Charleston-area school districts.

Three Things I Learned from the 2014 Teacher of the Year

1.    Teaching isn’t just a job–it is truly a calling that is not meant for everyone.

Sharpe says Jaime went the extra mile. Her “job” did not stop at 3:30. She would often stay late to make phone calls to parents, just to tell them their student had a great day at school. She would make home-visits to students who needed to see that she was devoted to them as a student and wanted to help them.

2.    Be consistent in the classroom.

As teachers, we don’t always know exactly what students experienced the night before school or even the morning before school. Jaime ALWAYS welcomed them with a “good morning. I am glad you are here!” Consistency is so important for students, and because she was so consistent, students knew what to expect and it provided the greatest learning opportunities for students.

3.    Be creative.

Jaime taught me to use food, characters, songs, movements—whatever it takes to keep the kids attention and maximize their learning!

“If I can be half of the teacher Jaime is, I will feel like I am a successful teacher,” says Sharpe. “Jaime is my role model. She is one of the reasons I want to teach. I hope I can ignite a spark in other future teachers one day like she ignited in me.”