The 1994 PC graduate made history as the first educator to bring that title home for Horry County Schools. She is the wife of PC alumnus William Ainsworth ’93, and the daughter of PC alumnus Larry Geddie ’68 of McColl. Both attended the gala, as well as the Ainsworths’ two sons.
Jennifer Ainsworth is a special education teacher who teaches Socastee High’s mild to moderate special needs class, with students from ages 14 to 21 who are learning work skills, life skills and academics in order to be productive citizens. She is known for her passion and dedication to her students, and for going above and beyond to provide them with opportunities for recreation and to participate in the community.
She said she is inspired by her late mother, Judy, who was a substitute teacher, her 96-year-old grandmother and her late class assistant, Peggy Blaine, who died the night before Ainsworth won HCS Teacher of the Year last year.
“When I volunteered for Special Olympics and working with adults with special needs, at that point I changed my major and I knew that special education was what I would want to do,” Ainsworth told WBTW News last week.
“With the students in our class from day one, they give you unconditional love and anybody who walks into our room will realize that they’re going to take so much more away from our classroom,” Ainsworth added.
Her students said they were confident she would be the winner because of the love she shows them everyday and how special she is to the class.
“This is an honor for all the teachers and staff that work with special kids everyday and it kind of showcases what we do and I’m extremely proud that it’s brought special education to the forefront,” Ainsworth said last week.
As South Carolina’s Teacher of the Year, Ainsworth receives a $25,000 cash award and a new BMW to use for one year. During the 2014-15 school year, she will participate in a one-year residency program at the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement and will serve as a statewide ambassador for the profession.
All the finalists went through personal interviews with a seven-member state selection committee. She and other finalists were selected from 81 school districts, the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Palmetto Unified School District, and the South Carolina Public Charter School District.