SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – State Superintendent Molly Spearman selected two Upstate teachers Wednesday as finalists for South Carolina Teacher of the Year.

Deion Jamison from Legacy Early College and Zachary Arms from Liberty High School were selected as two of five finalists for the award.

Jamison is a seventh through tenth grade English Language Arts teacher at Legacy Early College in Greenville with the South Carolina Public Charter School District.

“As the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year for the S.C. Public Charter School District, Deion has spent the better part of a year as an advocate, champion and ambassador for school choice in South Carolina,” said Chris Neeley, Superintendent of the S.C. Public Charter School District. “His commitment to student-centric teaching emphasizes the importance of developing the whole child, and he is steadily transforming young lives in the process.”

Spearman said Jamison is a recipient of the Early Career Educator of Color Leadership award from the National Council of Teachers of English and Teach for America. He was also honored with the Sue Lehmann Excellence in Teacher Leadership award.

The second teacher recognized by Spearman was Zachary Arms, a ninth through twelfth grade social studies teacher at Liberty High School in the School District of Pickens County.

“Zachary Arms is a great example of what today’s students need; an innovative teacher who understands the importance of how to capture, inspire, and teach all of his students in ways that they receive the greatest benefit,” said Danny Merck, School District of Pickens County Superintendent. “Inside the walls of his classroom and also through extracurricular activities, Mr. Arms goes above and beyond to support and challenge the students of Liberty High School.”

According to Spearman, Arms is best known for his spirit and innovative teaching methods, creating two new courses for Pickens County including Agricultural Economics and the Psychology of Superheroes, as well as designing community events at all Liberty schools to teach personal finance.

As two of five finalists, Jamison and Arms both received $10,000 and go on to the next stage of competition which involves an interview with a team of expert judges. 

The winner will be announced at the South Carolina Teacher of the Year Gala on May 4 in Columbia.