UNION — Matthew Carroll is Union County High School’s 2012-2013 Teacher of the Year.
“It’s an immense honor to be voted for by my peers,” Carroll said. “There are so many top-notch teachers at UCHS, any one of them could have gotten it. It’s a big honor to say the least.”
Principal Floyd Lyles said he has a lot of respect for Carroll.
“Mr. Carroll is a very consistent teacher who has a great relationship with students,” Lyles said. “He is a very supportive member of our staff and is truly deserving of the title.”
Born and raised in Union, Carroll graduated from Union High School in 2005 and attended the University of South Carolina Upstate, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary English. He currently teaches English II Honors and English III College Prep at UCHS.
Carroll married his wife, Amanda, last June, and he is the son of Barry and Betty Ann Carroll. He has one brother, Mark Carroll.
Carroll’s mother currently teaches at Buffalo Elementary, and he said growing up as the son of a longtime teacher, he has always felt comfortable in a school setting.
Not only was he comfortable in a school setting, but watching his mother work hard and reap the rewards served as inspiration.
“From the time I was old enough to go to her classroom with her, I was at a school somewhere,” Carroll said. “That was the catalyst. I saw the fulfillment she received from helping students, the reward she received from helping them better themselves.”
Although Carroll knew from an early age that he wanted to become a teacher, it was not until he reached high school that he began to realize what subject he wanted to teach.
While in high school, Carroll was the student of longtime English teacher Jack Kelly. Carroll said he appreciates the way Kelly held students to such a high standard.
“He got me into literature,” Carroll said, mentioning that he fondly remembers an end-of-the-year research paper he wrote about Ernest Hemingway for Kelly’s class.
“I started picking apart literature — not just reading, but looking for different nuances each writer might have.”
Carroll said that he has most recently enjoyed reading the works of novelist, essayist and Pulitzer-prize-winning film critic Stephen Hunter, who wrote “Point of Impact,” which was the basis for the 2007 film, “Shooter.”
Although Carroll thoroughly enjoys reading for pleasure, his primary focus is on educating.
“I enjoy what I do and where I am,” he said. “The reason I wanted to come back to Union and teach here is Union gave me my start. It’s where I was prepared for college, and I wanted to come back and give others the opportunity to receive the same quality education I received here.”
When asked about his educational philosophy, Carroll said that his goal as a teacher “is to strive to provide a structured, yet comfortable learning environment where students can learn and achieve goals with the help of teachers, faculty and parents.”
Carroll discussed his most memorable teaching experience since he began at UCHS in 2009, which involved a student in one of his tenth grade English II classes.
“She worked hard and put in the effort, but for some reason, she had trouble with her exit exams,” Carroll said, explaining that after two consecutive tries at the exam and lots of extra help after school, the young lady finally passed.
“We worked diligently together throughout the year and especially before the HSAP exam. I was just as excited to see her passing scores as she was. It was one of those moments where I knew that all the late hours, meetings and all the stuff we do besides teaching was worth it — to see a child succeed and be proud of what she accomplished. I can’t think of anything else I would want to do for a living.”
Carroll is also quick to tell others why he believes he was led to a career in education.
“God led me to this profession,” Carroll said. “I’m a person who believes in prayer and God’s ability to answer and show God’s people what they need to do when they ask for guidance. God placed people in my life to help me make that decision because I asked.”
Carroll said he believes those who influenced his decision — his mother, Jack Kelly and professors he met in college — were put in his life for a reason. He also believes that his receiving the Palmetto Teaching Fellows Scholarship was part of God’s plan.
“I asked for guidance and wisdom, and it seemed like everything fell into place,” he said.
Carroll is an active member of Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church, where he also teaches youth. He serves as a youth group leader, deacon and Wednesday night youth group teacher. The youth group consists of students ranging from seventh grade to high school seniors. Many of his lessons implement Biblical wisdom and stem from topics that affect present-day youth. He has also taught the adult class during Wednesday night Bible study in the absence of the pastor. He was recently ordained as a deacon at Mt. Lebanon and serves to make decisions that will affect the spiritual, financial and organizational direction of the church. He began his term on the board this year and says that even though this is a great responsibility, it is also a great honor.
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.