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AYNOR, S.C. (WMBF) - Renee Atkinson has been recognized as Horry County Schools’ 2023 Teacher of the Year, but the skills she brings outside of her curriculum could soon earn her the title of South Carolina Teacher of The Year.“I hold myself to a pretty high standard,” said Atkinson. “If I’m going to expect their best then I have to be willing to give my best every day.”By preparing her students for both AP and state exams, she is doing what it takes to see her students succeed.With 21...
AYNOR, S.C. (WMBF) - Renee Atkinson has been recognized as Horry County Schools’ 2023 Teacher of the Year, but the skills she brings outside of her curriculum could soon earn her the title of South Carolina Teacher of The Year.
“I hold myself to a pretty high standard,” said Atkinson. “If I’m going to expect their best then I have to be willing to give my best every day.”
By preparing her students for both AP and state exams, she is doing what it takes to see her students succeed.
With 21 years under her belt as an educator, she said the greatest challenge is making sure her students are supported.
“You have kids that are good at so many different things, and so trying to find a way to help every child be successful, it’s probably the core of what we do,” she said. “The content is secondary to building those relationships with kids so that you can figure out how to help them be successful with your content so that they can be successful in their future.”
Atkinson is an Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate English teacher at Aynor High School and the current Aynor High School Teacher of the Year.
She said outside of the long curriculum, meeting them at their level has helped earn her the title of HCS 2023 Teacher of the Year.
“She’ll go out her way for students,” said Emmanuel Deas, an Aynor High School senior. “Some teachers don’t do that, some teachers do, but the way she does it, like the other day she had given us a list of stuff we need to work on all the exams.”
Michael McCracken, Aynor High’s principal, joined in on the sentiment shared by Atkinson’s students.
“Doesn’t matter where you come from, doesn’t matter your last name, or who you are she’s going to push you to excellence and she believes in her kids,” said McCracken. “She believes they can reach levels that even sometimes they themselves don’t believe that can reach so she believes in her kids she pushes them, she doesn’t let circumstances stand in the way of them being successful.”
In addition to honing in on skills to prepare her students for the future, Atkinson is now one of the five finalists focused on claiming the South Carolina Teacher of The year title.
“I think there are over 50,000 teachers in the state of South Carolina so to be one of five is the greatest honor you know and to even be in in the running for state teacher of the year is more than I could have ever asked or imagined,” said Atkinson.
The South Carolina Teacher of the Year will be announced on Wednesday, April 26 at 11 a.m. in Columbia where the winner will receive $25,000 along with a brand-new BMW to use while serving for one year.
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Aynor High School’s softball team took a two-hour bus ride to the central part of the state Friday and returned to Horry County with a state championship trophy.The Blue Jackets (31-2) defeated Crescent, 8-2, in the third game of the best-of-three series to win the S.C. Class 3A state championship. The winner-take-all game was played at White Knoll High in Lexington County.The bus ride included a postseason tradition that began last season for the Aynor team: a quick stop at the year-old Buc-ee’s travel center in Fl...
Aynor High School’s softball team took a two-hour bus ride to the central part of the state Friday and returned to Horry County with a state championship trophy.
The Blue Jackets (31-2) defeated Crescent, 8-2, in the third game of the best-of-three series to win the S.C. Class 3A state championship. The winner-take-all game was played at White Knoll High in Lexington County.
The bus ride included a postseason tradition that began last season for the Aynor team: a quick stop at the year-old Buc-ee’s travel center in Florence.
“We get in there and get us some snacks, take some photos,” Aynor coach Tony Mills said. “It’s all about the memories.”
Aynor added to the on-field memories as well, one year after falling short in a Game 3 loss to Broome High in the state championship series.
Aynor won the 2023 series opener, 7-1, on Monday, with Crescent taking the second game. 1-0, on Wednesday. White Knoll High served as the neutral-site stadium for the decisive series finale. Community members, students and family packed the stands Friday to support the Blue Jackets.
Freshman Alivia Hess pitched a complete game, striking out two while allowing no walks, three hits and one earned run. She had three hits as a batter — and ate a Buc-ee’s brisket sandwich as part of her pregame meal.
“It means a lot because last year we were in this position and we worked so hard to get back here,” Hess said. “We knew that we were going to win. We just had a feeling.”
Katie Goff, Ryan Ellis and Riley Rabon each drove in two runs for Aynor, which got out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first inning. Caroline Gaskins stole three bases. The Blue Jackets added two runs in the third and sixth innings.
“Alivia could’ve thrown seven more innings, the way she finished,” Mills said. “She felt it. Everything was working.”
Aynor has now won three softball state titles in three different classifications, the others coming in Class A (1990) and 2A (2015).
Crescent (27-5) has 19 state titles to its credit, the last of which came in 2013.
“People are going to look back one day and say Aynor won the state championship,” Mills said. “They’re not going to know what year it was, but they’re going to remember the memories. They’re going to talk about going to Buc-ee’s. They’re going to talk about that bus ride. At the end of the day, that’s what life is all about.”
Catawba Ridge baseball won the school’s second state title in less than 24 hours in defeating the Chiefs on Friday in the deciding game in the best-of-three Class 4A championship series.
The title comes after the Copperheads defeated South Florence to win the 4A softball title on Thursday. It’s just the fourth year in operation for the school located in Fort Mill.
The loss ends the Chiefs’ season at 28-7 and caps the best season in program history.
North Myrtle Beach won the opening game of the series, 5-3, on Monday before losing 4-1 on Wednesday. The deciding game was held at Hartsville’s Jimmy White Park.
NMB jumped out to a 2-0 lead on first baseman Luke Roupe’s two-run homer in the first inning. Roupe finished with two hits in the game. But the Copperheads answered with two runs each in the second and third innings before adding three more in the sixth.
Brennan Helms led CR with two hits and three RBIs. Britton Nash, Jackson Mullen and Ben Wilson each had an RBI for the Copperheads.
CR’s Jackson McCoy struck out nine and allowed two earned runs in six innings to get the win.
This story was originally published May 26, 2023, 10:01 PM.
IVA, S.C. – Crescent softball senior pitcher Courtney Baldwin barely celebrated her biggest moment.Baldwin watched the final out, a ground ball to second, raised her right arm in victory, tossed her mask and glove aside, and started the line for postgame fist-bumps with Aynor’s team.Maybe she was already thinking about the possibility of a much bigger celebration.Crescent beat Aynor 1-0 on Wednesday night at Adams Field to force a deciding game in the ...
IVA, S.C. – Crescent softball senior pitcher Courtney Baldwin barely celebrated her biggest moment.
Baldwin watched the final out, a ground ball to second, raised her right arm in victory, tossed her mask and glove aside, and started the line for postgame fist-bumps with Aynor’s team.
Maybe she was already thinking about the possibility of a much bigger celebration.
Crescent beat Aynor 1-0 on Wednesday night at Adams Field to force a deciding game in the high school Class AAA best-of-three state finals.
The Lady Tigers (27-4), who lost the series opener 7-1, will try to add to a national-record 19 state championships Friday at neutral site to be announced. Crescent hasn’t been this far since 2017 and hasn’t won since 2013.
Baldwin, who will play at Limestone University, pitched a two-hit shutout. Aynor had runners in scoring position with one out in the fifth and sixth innings, but she shut it down both times.
“Courtney was unbelievable today,” Crescent coach Jeff Craft said. “Aynor is, without a doubt, the best-hitting team we’ve played. … I knew at practice (Tuesday) she was ready. I didn’t know she was this ready.”
Aynor (29-2) came in having scored 63 runs in seven playoff games.
“I think going to Aynor for that first game, we were all a little nervous,” Baldwin said. “But at home, you’re always comfortable.”
Here are some other takeaways:
Crescent senior second baseman Emily Blackwell (North Greenville) has been a hot all season. She’s batting .570.
Down the stretch in the playoffs, she’s really cranked it up.
Blackwell, in Crescent’s last five games, is 13-for-16 (.813) with 12 steals. She was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the first, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch but was on the move already, and scored on a sacrifice fly.
The Lady Tigers will need more offensive contributors besides Blackwell to win the championship.
They have just four hits in the two games and Blackwell has three of those.
“I hope we can show up and make something happen offensively on Friday,” Craft said. “We’ve seen them now for two games and we have a better idea.”
Crescent already has three eighth-graders in the starting lineup.
The Tigers had another Wednesday, when shortstop JuJu Owens was a late scratch with a health issue and replaced with Caroline Grey.
“I think Caroline has played three innings of defense all year,” Craft said. “And she went out and played shortstop in the state championship.”
“I thought she did amazing,” Blackwell said. “She embraced it and did great.”
Horry County Schools’ Teacher of the Year 2023 has been recognized as a finalist for the state level’s highest honor.Michelle “Renee” Atkinson of Aynor High School was surprised Friday morning at school by the South Carolina Superintendent of Education Ellen Weaver. She was selected as one of five finalists in the state.The English teacher said she was honored and elated on Friday morning.“I love teaching,” Atkinson said, “I love the students and I love the rewards I see from the...
Horry County Schools’ Teacher of the Year 2023 has been recognized as a finalist for the state level’s highest honor.
Michelle “Renee” Atkinson of Aynor High School was surprised Friday morning at school by the South Carolina Superintendent of Education Ellen Weaver. She was selected as one of five finalists in the state.
The English teacher said she was honored and elated on Friday morning.
“I love teaching,” Atkinson said, “I love the students and I love the rewards I see from their successes, and I wouldn’t be here without all of my colleagues. This is a team effort, not an individual sport.”
Atkinson thanked her colleagues and the principals she has worked with during her career for bringing her this far in her career, and hopes to continue advocating for the teaching profession.
“There’s a teacher shortage, and I want to encourage good people to be in classrooms because our children need them for our future,” she said.
Michael McCracken, principal at Aynor High School, said the school was informed earlier in the week that Atkinson had received an award.
“It speaks a lot to our school and our community,” McCracken said. “One of the things that we have said this year is that we have made it our aim and mission to be the best place to learn and the best place to work. And our heart is the Golden Rule: to do to others as we would have them do to us. This is just an example of all of that coming together.
“We’re looking to the finish line, and believe good things are gonna happen,” McCracken said, reflecting on the path forward for Aynor High School. “We’re very optimistic, because we know Renee Atkinson is an amazing person, an amazing teacher and a one of a kind person.”
Weaver said she was honored to celebrate Atkinson as a finalist.
"Her heart truly lives in the classroom where she directly impacts the lives of her students every day. Renee is a blessing to Aynor High School and the entire school district of Horry County," Weaver said.
This week, Weaver has been traveling around the state naming finalists. Teachers received a $10,000 check. Other finalists from around the state include Anne Reamer from Lexington School District Two, Amsavalli Velayuthan from Jasper County School District, Wayne Williams from Clover High School and Amanda "Mandy" DeMeio from Fort Mill.
Atkinson is a tenth through twelfth grade English teacher at Aynor. She earned her undergraduate degree in history from Clemson University, a master's in secondary English from Francis Marion University and an educational specialist degree in curriculum and instruction from Liberty University in 2013. She has taught for more than 20 years.
In 2022, Atkinson was chosen as Horry County Schools’ Teacher of the Year during a special banquet in Myrtle Beach.
“Y’all, I’m shocked. I’m honored,” Atkinson said in her acceptance speech last May. “I’ve been honored and humbled through this whole process. Everybody here in this room …. everybody deserves this honor. I know how hard each and every one of you work, and I’m not more special than any one of you. We’re all here because we’re in the business of loving children and wanting to see them succeed.”
The previous year, Atkinson was named as a school-level teacher of the year.
HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Aynor High School teacher Renee Atkinson is the 2024 South Carolina Teacher of the Year.State Superintendent of Education Ellen Weaver announced the award Wednesday afternoon during an annual gala at the governor’s mansion in Columbia. The event was attended by legislators, business leaders and community members “to acknowledge the importance of the teaching profession,” Horry County Schools said in a news release.The award means Atkinson, who was the ...
HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Aynor High School teacher Renee Atkinson is the 2024 South Carolina Teacher of the Year.
State Superintendent of Education Ellen Weaver announced the award Wednesday afternoon during an annual gala at the governor’s mansion in Columbia. The event was attended by legislators, business leaders and community members “to acknowledge the importance of the teaching profession,” Horry County Schools said in a news release.
The award means Atkinson, who was the 2023 Horry County Schools Teacher of the Year, will serve as an ambassador for education across the state during the next year. She also will compete for the title of National Teacher of the Year.
Atkinson, who teaches English, is in her 17th year with Horry County Schools and her 21st year working in education.
Atkinson earned a bachelor’s degree in history with a minor in English at Clemson University and then went on to earn a master’s degree in secondary English from Francis Marion University and an education specialist degree in curriculum and instruction from Liberty University.
Atkinson will receive $25,000 for winning the state competition. She will also be provided with a new BMW to use while serving for one year as a roving ambassador.
“She will provide mentoring, attend speaking engagements, work with Teacher Cadets and Teaching Fellows, lead the State Teacher Forum, and serve as the state spokesperson for over 55,000 educators,” Horry County Schools said.
You can learn more about Reneé by watching this video about the 2023 Horry County Schools Teacher of the Year finalists, by watching her HCS Teacher of the Year acceptance speech and by watching the announcement that she was a finalist for SC Teacher of the Year.
Other finalists for the award were:
Meanwhile, Horry County Schools named Emma Lyn Cain as its 2024 Teacher of the Year. She will compete for the 2025 statewide honor.
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Dennis Bright is a digital producer at News13. Dennis is a West Virginia native and graduate of Marshall University. He has won copyediting and journalism awards in West Virginia and Ohio. Follow Dennis on Twitter and read more of his work here.