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College of Education

Blevins honored to be named Teacher of the Year early in her career

Caroline Waldrop Blevins says the students she teaches bring her joy. Blevins, who is in her third year of teaching, knew from early in life that she wanted to become a teacher. That career calling was affirmed when Harbison West Elementary School selected her as their 2024-2025 Teacher of the Year. Blevins cherishes her time at Anderson University and is grateful for the thorough preparation she received from the College of Education. She’s married to Anderson Blevins, whom she met during college. He’s also an Anderson University graduate and is employed at Lexington Medical Center.

Tell me about your time at Anderson University

I truly enjoyed my time at Anderson University. I am so blessed to be able to have so many different memories to hold on to. I was able to meet my husband at AU. I've made great lifelong friends there. A lot of my friends were in the education department. We stay in touch to this day, so it's just been phenomenal. 

I graduated in May of 2021. I studied Elementary Education with an add-on in Early Childhood Education. I was on the cheerleading team for all four years. I served as captain my junior and senior years. I served on the Student Athletic Advisory Committee for two and a half years. I was also a Teaching Fellow at AU. I participated in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I was a Student Ambassador for the Office of Admission, so I gave tours of the College of Education. It was either my junior or senior year I was selected as a student representative for the teacher education committee and my senior year I earned the Trojan Athletics Award and was inducted into the Chi Alpha Sigma honor society. So I was just very, very blessed and fortunate to be involved in a wide variety of things at AU. 

How did you decide to come to Anderson University? 

It was actually my mom who mentioned Anderson University to me… My junior year of high school, my family and I went and toured it. I fell in love with it. I actually, believe it or not, toured with the Biology Department. I went back my senior year, toured again with the College of Education. And I knew that I did not want to go anywhere else. So I was fortunate enough to apply and get accepted. A couple of months later, I found out that I had received the Teaching Fellows scholarship through Anderson University. And then I also tried out for the cheer team and made it and I just remember saying to myself, “God, if this is your will, help me to be able to bring honor and glory to you and your kingdom.” And I made the team, I got Teaching Fellows, I was accepted. I received all of these scholarships and so to me, I just truly felt that it was the Lord's will to be at Anderson University. And to this day, I would not take back a thing. 

How did you become interested in teaching? 

When I was in second grade, I fell in love with the idea of having my own classroom. I truly think my spiritual gift in life is the love and passion that I have for children. I wanted to make sure that I was using the gift that the good Lord had given me. And so I knew ever since I was in elementary school, I wanted to teach. 

I continued to volunteer in local classrooms throughout high school. I was a part of Teacher Cadet my senior year of high school. And then, things fell into place. I applied for the College of Education at AU. I received Teaching Fellows. I think in that moment, I truly knew that teaching is where the Lord wanted me. 

It's not always easy. There are pros and cons just like any other profession, but I will say the children bring me joy and, like I said, I think it is a full circle, it goes right back to my spiritual gift—the love that I have for the kids. Since 2021 I've been able to teach second grade, fourth grade, and next year, I have been asked to teach a gifted and talented class. So I'm very, very excited about that. 

Describe an “aha” moment when you see a student grasping what you taught.

I remember the first moment I felt that was the end of last school year. I had a student who was very, very low academically. We had been learning telling time on a clock, you know, learning how to count by fives. It wasn't until close to the very end of the school year, he was able to tell me how to tell time and I just remember thinking to myself, That's it. This is what it feels like. That student learned to tell time. I felt that I had accomplished something. So that was the “aha” moment, but I'll add on to that. That student did not get to finish the school year with me. He wound up going to a different school. So fast forward to this past summer. His mother reached out to me and said, “Hey, so and so is having a football game. He wants you to come and watch him and play.” And so I was able to go and watch him even though he wasn't even a student of mine anymore, he wasn't at the school that I was teaching at. So I think the “aha” moment is seeing the students succeed academically but also building that relationship with the student. 

What would be some challenges and how do you feel like you're able to get through them? 

I teach in a Title I school. It's definitely a calling in life, but it is a reward. The specific school I teach at backs up to an apartment complex. A lot of the students that I teach either live in that apartment or they live in the hotels right across the street. I have students coming to me with trauma, just coming from very broken families, broken home lives. Their lunch and breakfast that they eat at school may be the only food that they're going to get. To me that was very eye opening when I first started teaching at this school. I would say the most challenging part is seeing the students go through so many challenges out of their control. I wish I could do so much more, but at the end of the day, you know, this is all I can do, so, while I do have them for such short time throughout the day, my old principal said the most important thing is to love, provide and protect, and so if I can do those three things for my kids every day, then I felt like I did an okay job. Those are definitely some of the challenges that I see in my career. 

How does it feel to be honored as Teacher of the Year? 

My first two years of teaching I was under evaluation, so in order for me to move to the next year, I had to get observed several lessons to make sure that I'm doing the right thing. My third year teaching, which is this current school year, was the first year that I was eligible to be put on the ballot for Teacher of the Year. And I made it to the top three. I received an email from my assistant principal, and I just remember being so surprised. I couldn't believe it. I saw my name on the list. So again, I just prayed. I said “Lord, if this is your will let it be. If I win I pray that I could just give you all the honor and the glory.” 

Fast forward a week later, I found out that I was nominated. I was selected as Teacher of the Year and I was just so excited. I couldn't have been more happy, more thrilled. My family showed up to support me at school, my husband and his family. So it's been a blessing. But I am also the type of person where success is my motivation, so as long as I know that I am moving in the right direction and being successful, that pushes me even more. 

If you were to give advice to somebody who is considering going into education, what would that advice be? 

I would say, pray about it. If you feel led or called, at the end of the day, it's God's will. He's never going to fail nor forsake. So if you are having hesitations, I would just say, pray always. 

What are some ways you feel like your degree program at Anderson has really benefited you in your day to day in the classroom? 

I truly enjoyed my classes that allowed me to set foot into the classroom off campus. I feel like those were probably the most beneficial classes that I took. But as far as the classes on campus, to me it was building relationships with my professors. And fortunately, we had a small enough class size where I got that one on one interaction with my professor and I've made great lifelong friends that were sitting in the desk next to me learning at the same time. I think all of that truly prepared me for my teaching career. My senior year I was at Nevitt Forest Elementary in a fourth grade classroom. 

What makes Harbison West a special place to teach? 

I met my husband, we got married and moved to Irmo. And so I just remember applying to this specific school district. I thought at the time I wanted to go to a different elementary school. And I always said that was my choice, but God's choice was for me to go to Harbison West and I didn't see it at the time I was applying, but, fast forward from when I started my teaching career, it was very obvious to me that this is where God wanted me. We now have a new principal, but when I started, my former principal just took me underneath his arm. I felt like he was kind of like a father figure to me. He was the one that hired me in this position. He asked about my husband and my family… I would say it's really just the faculty and the staff that has made me feel at home and at peace and ease with this. And then I think a lot of it, too, is just the students. We just have a very loving population of students and they know that they are held to high expectations. I think a lot of that comes from the great faculty and staff members that we have here at Harbison West.

Caroline Waldrop Blevins
Caroline Waldrop Blevins
Graduated from Anderson University: 2021
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education with an add-on in Early Childhood Education
Title: Second Grade Teacher at Harbison West Elementary School, Columbia, South Carolina