Excellence In Teaching Awards Celebration Soiree

Story by Jen Jordan / November 3, 2023

Summary: This video features teachers from Meeting Street Schools discussing the impact of the “Excellence In Teaching Awards.” They share personal stories of hard work, dedication, and the transformative power of recognition and financial rewards. The teachers highlight their achievements in student growth and express how the awards have motivated and inspired them to continue their passion for teaching. The video underscores the importance of valuing educators and the positive ripple effect this has on the community, student success, and teacher retention.


“When you’re thinking about a teacher, they have the ability to change a child’s life and the trajectory where they’re going. And that’s not easy; not everybody can do it. And so those that can, I truly believe, should be seen for that, that should be rewarded for that, and it’s going to keep a lot of teachers in the profession if we have that award.

I’ve been teaching for about 7 years now, and within that, I’ve always worked hard, always wanted the best for all of my students. And I don’t feel as if I’ve ever really gotten recognition for that hard work. Not saying I do it for the recognition because I do it because of my love for learning, my love for my students, but it does feel good to finally be seen and heard.

Our Meeting Street Schools teachers are on the front line. They are the most important people that work with our students every day. So why not have that inverted pyramid where those that are on the front line have the opportunity to gain additional income? So we need to keep our best teachers, our best educators in the classroom.

From the fall to the spring, I was able to grow 20 out of 23 of my Scholars more than a year’s worth of growth in ELA. This achievement really put things into perspective for me. I was able to really see that my efforts were not going unnoticed and it just motivates me to put more work and more effort into my Scholars because now I know that what I’m doing, it actually works, and they’re actually grasping what I’m teaching.

Last year, my class achieved 1.6 years of growth in math and 1.47 years of growth in reading. I received a $28,000 bonus, which was, in my opinion, phenomenal. It was the largest single paycheck that I’ve ever received, and that’s after almost 30 years. I was able to put away some savings for my vacation, and I was able to save for my 30th birthday vacation, and my 30th birthday is actually today, and so this is an amazing way to bring in a new chapter of my life.

We should see the results of your labor, your work, and we did because over 67% of our teachers received awards. While it’s a novel idea in education, it’s not a novel idea in the world that we live in. If you and I are doing the same job and I get there right at the neck of time and I leave right as soon as I can and you come early and you stay late and you advance, why should you not be paid more? That’s true in most professions, and we have to let that be true in education.

I think if you understand the importance of your role as an educator for your students, then this job is constant for you. You’re thinking about it 24/7 because you understand that all of your actions, any little small detail, it all will determine where your students end up by the end of the year. We definitely get to school early, we prepare the night before for all of the different academic components of our day, whether that’s anticipating who might need more support, who might be able to be pushed a little bit harder, or just even when they need a wiggle break.

I’m there from sun up to sun down most times. I’m the last person to leave the building. It’s hard work, but it’s meaningful work, and it matters. What motivates me is the persistent gap that we see in education depending on your ZIP code. Also, our parents, they have dreams for their kids to have the same opportunities as kids that live in another zip code across town. Our partnership with them is super motivating, and then, of course, our kids, the privilege to be able to stand in front of them every day and share in their learning experience.

I want my students to know that they can do anything that they set their minds to, even if it’s tough. One of the big things that I tell my students is that I love them, but I will not accept anything but their absolute best. And so that means that certain times in our room, it has been hard, it’s been challenging, there have been tears, but I don’t give up on them, and they’ve seen success in my classroom, and it’s given them the confidence to know if I can do this, I can do anything that I want to.

My purpose for wanting them to love learning is to have a plan in their life where they can actually say, ‘I’m being intentional about what I want to do with my life,’ and they’re following what their purpose and their passion is, just like I did. We’re very blessed to have Meeting Street, Mr. Navar, to really pay attention to teachers that are really working hard to make a difference in our communities. For someone to recognize that and provide that support to teachers is important to our community because we want the best education for our students in Charleston and other areas in South Carolina, and we want to draw the best teachers there.

Last year, I decided that I was going to retire, and that was really hard because this is my passion, it’s my life’s work. But this award helped me to feel appreciated and validated, and I decided to stay. It’s just been a real blessing to us to bring this into our system because if we don’t pay teachers more and provide better training for teachers, our scholars aren’t going to make it. And ours are going to make it because we’re going to do the right things by our teachers.

It was just like a blessing for our teachers, and it really made me feel that we have people that care about our teachers and the opportunity to give them extra funds. So it was a blessing. I think it’s put some wind in my sails to do this work a while longer. It does have a major impact, and I think that I’m not unique. I think when teachers are finally recognized, appreciated, it does give them the motivation to carry on.”



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About Meeting Street Schools

Meeting Street Schools (MSS) is an innovative non-profit where schools, families, and the community collaborate to create environments where all children can achieve their full potential. With a network of schools across South Carolina, including MSA-Charleston (Charleston, SC), MSA-Spartanburg (Spartanburg, SC), MS-Brentwood (North Charleston, SC), MS-Burns (North Charleston, SC), and MS-Jasper & Beaufort (Jasper, SC), we are committed to providing students with the rigorous education they deserve.

Founded on the principle that every child deserves an excellent education regardless of their socio-economic background, Meeting Street Schools has been a beacon of hope and a testament to what's possible in education. Our schools are driven by a strong focus on student achievement, evidence-based instruction, and relentless support of our students and their families.

While united by our shared mission, each MSS campus, is unique in its character, tapping into the local spirit of the communities they serve. Explore each of our schools and discover how they're creating a brighter future for students in South Carolina.

News & NotesFrom Clemson University to Master Teacher and Player Coach: Emily Godwin

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Our Schools

MSA – CharlestonDowntown Charleston, SC - Independent School - Since 2008 - 364 Students

Nestled in the heart of Charleston, South Carolina, MSA Charleston is more than just a school—it’s a hub for innovative learning and community engagement. As part of the Meeting Street Schools network, MSA Charleston embodies a commitment to excellence through its rigorous academic programs, inclusive culture, and focus on developing the whole child. With a curriculum that emphasizes both academic and personal growth, MSA Charleston prepares students to be curious learners and active citizens of their community.

MSA – SpartanburgDowntown Spartanburg, SC - Public School - Since 2012 - 323 Students

MSA Spartanburg stands as a pillar of educational innovation in the Spartanburg community. The school’s dedicated educators and supportive learning environment ensure that each child receives a high-quality, personalized education with exceptional faculty and teachers. MSA Spartanburg is distinguished by its emphasis on community partnership, fostering relationships that extend beyond the classroom to build a strong foundation for lifelong learning and success.

MS – BrentwoodNorth Charleston, SC - Public School - Since 2014 - 694 Students

MS Brentwood is a place where education meets opportunity. Serving the Brentwood area, this school is a testament to the transformative power of education. With a student-centered approach that celebrates diversity and encourages excellence, MS Brentwood is dedicated to equipping students with the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century. MS Brentwood also serves as a hub for the Brentwood community to access educational and wellness services. The school’s commitment to innovation, coupled with a warm, welcoming environment, makes it a standout in the MSS network.

MS – BurnsNorth Charleston, SC - Public School - Since 2018 - 478 Students

Located in a community rich with history and culture, MS Burns is renowned for its dynamic educational approach that intertwines traditional learning with modern teaching techniques. The school’s focus on experiential learning ensures that students at MS Burns are not only recipients of knowledge but also active participants in their educational journey. MS Burns exists to spark an educational revolution for the students and families in the Dorchester-Waylyn Neighborhood in North Charleston. With a commitment to creating a supportive and challenging academic environment, MS Burns is forging a new path in public education.

MS – Jasper & BeaufortJasper County, SC - Public Charter School - Fall 2023 -

MS Jasper represents the Meeting Street Schools’ dedication to community-based education with a global perspective. The school provides a nurturing environment where students are encouraged to explore their potential and cultivate a love for learning. With its diverse programs such as Eureka Math, and Wit and Wisdom, MS Jasper puts a major emphasis on character development, specialized learning and equips students to become thoughtful, engaged members of society, reflecting the MSS ethos of empowerment through education.


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“Meeting Street Academy is my family. They taught me that I am valuable. I am an asset to the world…They asked me, ‘What is your dream?’ I had never been asked that before. The MSS community gives me the strength to pursue my dreams.”

— Kadelyn SteedStudent

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“We come into work everyday truly believing that our students are capable of achieving anything that is put in front of them. Here at MSS, students are provided the opportunity to achieve success through the facilitation of well-educated teachers, resources, and a responsive classroom school environment.”

— NikToshia GilesTeacher

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“MSA is a family. Once you’re in, you’re in. They said they would follow our kids from K-3 to college and they actually lived up to what they said they would do. Not only did MSA challenge my daughter academically but it also exposed her to new things that she probably wouldn’t have been exposed to at our previous neighborhood school. Our journey at MSA was exciting and rewarding. They actually walk the walk.”

— Tyeka GrantParent