BUFFALO — Heather Barnado is Buffalo Elementary School’s 2012-2013 Teacher of the Year.
Barnado is the daughter of Robert and Vicki Grady of Union, and she said her father’s longtime career as a teacher at Union High School was definitely an influence on her.
“Once I convinced him this is what I wanted to do, he was very supportive,” Barnado said about her father.
Barnado officially decided she wanted to become a teacher while she was in high school, gaining firsthand teaching experience by participating in the Teacher Cadet program. After graduation, Barnado earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of South Carolina and went on to earn her master’s degree from Southern Wesleyan University.
This marks Barnado’s 14th year of teaching, as she taught for seven years in Whitmire before coming to Buffalo Elementary School.
“It’s definitely a rewarding job, but it’s a lot of hard work,” Barnado said. “It’s not just dealing with kids all day. You have to deal with what they’ve been through at home or what they’ve seen on the bus before they get here. Anyone who thinks it’s easy should come in and sub for a day.”
Principal Melissa Inman described Barnado as the model teacher.
“She is loving, caring and always giving,” Inman said. “She thinks about others before herself. I could not ask for a better teacher or person. This teacher cares not only about the children she teaches, she cares about their families.”
“It will pull at your heartstrings sometimes,” Barnado said. “You’re dealing with children and their emotions, and you never know what they will feel like that day. It’s hard to detach yourself sometimes.”
Barnado said there have been instances in which she stopped lessons to go outside the classroom with students for counseling.
“It’s trying to push them forward so they can feel loved and successful,” she said.
Barnado currently teaches a class of 15 second graders at BES.
“I love visiting her classroom,” Inman said. “Her children are always happy and learning.”
Barnado said she has a good group this year and mentioned that her class is very democratic. She said the class was allowed to vote on next week’s lunch menu items, with the most popular items being chicken wings and pancakes.
Barnado also said she is lucky this year to have a student teacher from Winthrop University — former BES student Katie Jolly. Jolly is completing a year-long internship at the school.
Barnado said her advice for aspiring teachers is to get real-world experience first.
“Don’t be afraid, but be aware of the responsibility,” she said, adding that the amount of required teacher accountability continues to grow.
Inman said Barnado does not like to be out front, but would rather be behind the scenes. Even so, she said Barnado is still a tremendous leader.
“One quote that I found exemplifies what she believes: ‘Words and plans are not enough. Leaders stand up for their beliefs. They practice what they preach. They show others by their own example that they live by the values that they profess.’”
Barnado is the chair for BES second grade, chair of the social committee and a member of Delta Kappa Gama. She has also played piano at Salem Baptist Church in Santuc for 19 years.
Barnado is married to Union County Schools Director of Technology Tim Barnado and they have two children — daughter Reagan, 7, and son Reid, 4.
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at email@example.com.