LOCKHART — The 2015-2016 Lockhart School Teacher of the Year said he feels like a puzzle piece that has perfectly fit into Lockhart’s picture.
Seth Whitehead grew up in West Springs and attended Buffalo Elementary School before transferring to Spartanburg School District 6 where his father — Danny Whitehead — was a teacher and guidance counselor at Dawkins Middle School. Seth’s mother — Ginger Whitehead — was also an educator, teaching elementary and special education classes in Spartanburg District 7.
Seth said his parents were inspiration for both him and his sister, Shelley, who is currently working on her Ph.D. at Penn State.
Seth graduated from Dorman High School in 2010, where he played varsity lacrosse, and he went on to receive his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Lander University in 2014.
“With my parents being teachers, they were the ones who really sparked my interest into teaching,” Seth said.
He began teaching at Lockhart School months after graduating in 2014, and since beginning his teaching career, he has learned the importance of flexibility when teaching any subject.
“Things happen all the time that you have not planned for, and it is your job to quickly adapt to the situation without ‘hitting a speed bump’ during a lesson,” Seth said. “Inside, your mind is constantly moving and observing — especially in physical education — and you have to make changes if something is not working or if the task is too easy for the class.”
Seth said he walks into the school each day, thinking about his plans for each class.
“Just like an athlete would visualize playing in the game before the game starts,” Seth said.
Seth said once he is in the classroom, the focus is totally on the students.
“During classes it is all about the students, giving feedback to each student about the task they are performing. Driving home after school, I laugh to myself sometimes and think, ‘I get paid to do this.’”
Seth admitted, however, that although he loves every part of Lockhart School, like any job, his contains daily obstacles.
“The difficult part of the job is trying to observe all of the students at one time — spread out in the gym — and being able to let them know if they are doing something correct or not. It’s like having to juggle 20 balls at the same time and not letting any of them drop.”
Although his role involves its share of challenges, Whitehead said the true reward couldn’t be hung on a wall or placed in a trophy case.
“The best thing is the feel you get when you can truly make a student’s day by making them laugh,” Seth said. “Laughter is very contagious, and I feel that I have done my job when I can put a smile of students’ faces and help them learn something new.”
During the last day of school before Christmas break, faculty members gathered in one room, and the announcement was made that Mr. Seth Whitehead had been named teacher of the year.
“I was stunned because I knew there were so many other teachers that could have been named Teacher of the Year,” he said. “
Whitehead described the announcement and applause from fellow faculty members as a mental boost, which he said made him feel as though he didn’t need a break to prepare for the next semester.
“I was ready to go at that moment,” he said.
Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-762-4128 or firstname.lastname@example.org.