Superintendent Spearman Announces Starr Elementary’s Jeffrey Maxey as Teacher of the Year Finalist

Starr, S.C. – State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman surprised Starr Elementary School teacher, Jeffrey Maxey, at his school today with news that he has been selected as one of five finalists for the South Carolina Teacher of the Year award.

“Jeff’s commitment to his students is evident by just walking into his classroom,” said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. “His innovative approach to finding student’s passions has led to their success and is a model to be replicated across our state.”


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Jeffrey Maxey is a Special Education Resource teacher at Starr Elementary in Anderson School District Three. He also serves as the Special Education Department Head, District Teacher Trainer, District Evaluator, and a Master Teacher Mentor. Mr. Maxey has been named Teacher of the Year in two separate schools, along with being named Anderson School District Three Teacher of the Year. Jeffrey originally pursued a career as a minister. While serving in that role, he pastored a funeral for a young student. Afterwards, he received an invitation to visit the classrooms of the student’s senior class to help them understand their loss. It was during this experience that he became inspired to become a teacher. Jeffrey’s grandparents instilled a love of games and puzzles that required logic, such as Backgammon and Chess. “I am reminded of those puzzles and the logic of those games as I desire to impact the lives of students with special needs. Like creative puzzles or multifaceted games, each student has many intricate designs within. My goal is to help them discover what is inside, then let it out.” This desire put him on a path to teach inner-city middle school students, then to North Africa for eight years to teach educators as the National Director of Education and Training for a non-government organization, and finally to South Carolina.

“Jeff Maxey is an exemplary professional educator who believes that his life calling is to teach. He exemplifies this through his daily interactions with students by providing a differentiated, innovative, challenging learning environment,” said Kathy Hipp, superintendent of Anderson School District 3. “He collaborates with other teachers to eliminate barriers to learning and considers it his greatest accomplishment when each student meets his or her individual goals. The Anderson District 3 family congratulates Jeff on achieving this recognition. His reputation as an advocate for students, valuable colleague to other educators, and servant-leader in the community make him the ideal teacher to represent Anderson District 3 and the state of South Carolina as the State Teacher of the Year.”

As one of five finalists, Maxey will receive $10,000 and go on to the next stage of competition which involves an in-person interview with a team of expert judges. The South Carolina Teacher of the Year Gala will be held May 2nd in Columbia where the overall winner will be crowned.

The winner receives a total of $25,000 and is provided with a brand new BMW to use while serving for one year as a roving ambassador providing mentoring, attending speaking engagements, working with teacher cadets and teaching fellows, leading the State Teacher Forum, and serving as the state spokesperson for over 48,000 educators.

The Teacher of the Year program celebrates excellence and strengthens the teaching force by honoring and recognizing exceptional teachers on the district, state, and national level. The Teacher of the Year Awards not only assists in retention efforts but serve as a powerful recruitment tool to the educator profession.

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Learn more about The Teacher of the Year program here.