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Sandy Ridge Elementary kindergarten teacher named 2015-16 UCPS Teacher of the Year

Lisa Austen, a kindergarten teacher at Sandy Ridge Elementary School, was named the 2015-16 Union County Public Schools Teacher of the Year during Thursday's (April 23, 2015) Teacher of the Year Banquet. She is pictured with UCPS Superintendent Dr. Mary Ellis and Sandy Ridge Elementary Principal James Eversole. (Below) Austen holds the keys to a new car courtesy of Union County KIA, a Keffer Automotive Company, who will gift Austen a one-year lease.

This year’s UCPS Teacher of the Year knew from the beginning of her career that she wanted to make a difference in the lives of children, to change a child’s life for the better.

Lisa Austen, a kindergarten teacher at Sandy Ridge Elementary School, was named the 2015-16 Union County Public Schools Teacher of the Year during Thursday's (April 23, 2015) Teacher of the Year Banquet. The 19-year-veteran teacher has taught pre-k, kindergarten, and first and second grades.

Her principal, James Eversole, wasn’t surprised that Austen took the Teacher of the Year title.

“Lisa Austen is a very dedicated teacher who works diligently to prepare her kindergarten students for the rest of their educational career and beyond,” Eversole said. “She does it with a sense of caring and patience that is unparalleled. Mrs. Austen is definitely one of UCPS’ finest teachers.”

Austen said she felt very fortunate to work for a school system that supports education and has provided her with so much staff development. “I love working for a county that allows us to keep growing and learning,” she said.

Austen said her goal for her students is to find a secure, caring and stimulating environment where they feel safe, accepted and loved.

“I have watched my students learn and grow over the years because of the love and trust we have for each other,” Austen said. “They are able to develop in an emotionally safe environment that encourages thinking, risk taking, and involvement. Through building relationships and creating a family-like classroom atmosphere, my students are able to resolve conflicts and work as a team to solve problems.”

Her day is structured to encourage her students to become self-directed learners by setting personal goals, initiating activities, and by organizing their own time line to complete daily projects.

“I am not afraid to take risks and to strive to meet new goals,” she said. “My greatest contribution to education is taking the time to get to know each child and make sure each one leaves school happy and loved.”

Austen said she considers herself lucky to be part of the teaching profession. “I often look at some of my friends who are making a lot more money than I am, are less stressed out, and actually have their nights and weekends off, and I think… ‘Nope! I wouldn’t give up teaching for anything.’"

UCPS Superintendent Dr. Mary Ellis congratulated all teachers of the year and thanked them for their hard work and dedication.

“Were it not for some special teachers, I wouldn’t be here,” Ellis said. “So I celebrate you. I celebrate you personally. I celebrate you privately. I celebrate you publically. We have to be in the business of doing what’s right for every child, every time, every minute, every breath. I salute you for doing just that.”

For winning the countywide Teacher of the Year title, Austen received $500 and a Teacher of the Year ring. The Union County Education Foundation also awarded Austen $1,000 for her personal use.

In addition, Austen will receive a one-year lease of a car courtesy of Union County KIA, a Keffer Automotive Company.

Pierce Group Benefits and Union County KIA, a Keffer Automotive Company, sponsored the 2015-16 Teacher of the Year Banquet, held at Rolling Hills Country Club.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe - UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Apr 23, 2015 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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