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AU News

College of Education Graduates Named Teachers of the Year, Finalists

Megan Bright, Drew Hallgren and Jenny Clark.
Anderson University education graduates being honored at their school or district include, from left, Megan Bright, Drew Hallgren and Jenny Clark.

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Anderson University looks forward to applauding the achievement of new teachers.

Because teachers who are graduates of the Anderson University College of Education are so thoroughly prepared to enter the classroom, it’s no surprise when so many of them are recognized with awards from the school level all the way up to state and regional levels.  

Graduates have been named South Carolina Teacher of the Year like Braden Wilson. There have also been many State Teacher of the Year finalists, as well as Teachers of the Year at district and local school level. First-year teachers are honored with Induction Teacher of the Year.  

Here are a few of the most recently honored teachers: 


Megan Bright 

Gray Court-Owings Elementary School in Laurens School District 55 named Megan Bright as Induction Teacher of the Year.  

When Bright learned of her honor, she said it felt amazing to be able to celebrate with her students.  

Having a father who taught in high school and college, as well as a sister with a disability are early experiences Bright feels helped her transition into teaching. She also feels that being a mom of four young children has helped prepare her to care for the students in her class. 

Bright originally earned her Criminal Justice degree at another college, but was realizing that a criminal justice career wasn’t a good fit, so she found a job working as a teaching assistant and also working as an interventionist assisting children and their families. This eventually led to her earning her master of education degree from Anderson University.  

“I would say that the biggest feeling of accomplishment is just seeing those lower level or struggling students really understanding a concept and witnessing the growth and development over the journey of this year,” Bright said.  

Bright was attracted to Anderson University because of its Christian foundation.  

“As an assistant, I always heard principals who wanted those graduates who came from Anderson just because of the high expectations they hold us to,” Bright said. 


Drew Hallgren 

In Anderson District 2, Belton-Honea Path High School named Drew Hallgren as their Induction Teacher of the Year.  

“It felt amazing,” Hallgren said. “We were having a student versus teacher volleyball game that day and they pulled the award out in the middle of the basketball court in front of everybody and then they announced that there. It was surreal and all kids were going crazy. It was awesome.” 

Hallgren, who teaches high school math and algebra, knew he wanted to become a teacher because of teachers who were his mentors when he was growing up in Ohio. He feels an important part of his job is building relationships. He places a priority on getting to know each student by name and learning about what their interests are.  

“You’ve got to have passion for the kids, you’ve got to have patience and you’ve got to want to help them succeed. If they know you care about them,” Hallgren contends, “they will care and they will get through it; they will try.” 

Hallgren said that the combination of being in Anderson University’s College of Education and playing on the Trojans Baseball team were some of the best experiences he could have had.  

Hallgren’s advice to anyone wanting to become a teacher is that they have to be in it because they love students. 


Jenny Clark 

The School District of Pickens County named Jenny Clark, an MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching) graduate, as a finalist for Induction Teacher of the Year.  

Clark, who is completing her first year as a first-grade teacher at East End Elementary School in Easley, never regretted her decision to walk away from a successful managerial job in the business world. She found that Anderson’s MAT program could open doors and help her realize her dream of teaching.   

Reflecting on her first year, Clark is grateful for the in-classroom experiences she had before graduating, commenting, “I wasn’t just completely green, I was already set up and ready to go. There’s so much that I’ve learned over this full year of a class… With the MAT program in particular, I think the way that they went about things, those methods courses that we took were 100 percent helpful.” 

Clark compares overcoming her fears of completing her degree and committing to a career change to teaching as preparing for a marathon, saying “If I doubted myself, do you think I would finish? No! It’s because I believe it and had to take that plunge. You cannot be fearful. 

Clark says that someday she would like to pursue doctoral studies in education. 


More teachers of the year will soon be added to this page—stay tuned. 

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