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Stover Middle teacher Dr. Linda Branham named 2022 KCSD Teacher of the Year; Doby's Mill Elementary teacher Caroline Gross to serve as first alternate

April 28, 2022

Stover Middle School (STO) math teacher Dr. Linda Branham was named 2022 Kershaw County School District (KCSD) Teacher of the Year at a celebration tonight while Doby's Mill Elementary School (DME) special education teacher Caroline Gross was chosen as first alternate.

Also honored during the evening’s celebration was Camden Elementary School special education teacher Jessica Truesdale who was named as the Outstanding First Year Teacher and Camden Middle School English language arts teacher Brooke Dixon who was selected as the first alternate for the award. Lugoff-Elgin Middle School Principal Gene Cameron was recognized as the district’s Principal of the Year.

Dr. Linda Branham

All 19 Kershaw County schools selected teachers of the year. Branham and Gross were two of five honor roll teachers selected as finalists for the district award. Other honor roll teachers are Lauren Steele, North Central High School; April Garbade, North Central Middle School; and Kristi Brown, Wateree Elementary School.

Branham has worked at STO since 2018 and previously taught at Pine Tree Hill Elementary. She was a state finalist for the 2017 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching and is national board certified as a middle childhood generalist. She has received a KCSD Golden Apple award from her colleagues five years in a row and leads STO's PBIS (Positive Behaviors Interventions and Supports) initiative where she organizes a monthly PBIS schoolwide event. A LEHS graduate, Branham credits KCSD teachers for inspiring her to become a teacher. 

“As a product of KCSD, I would like to believe that I had the best teachers. At every level, I can remember an inspirational teacher that made me want to do what they did," Branham said. She added, "I knew that my love for numbers and fondness for education would lead me on an amazing adventure to educate students, ultimately allowing them the opportunity to be anything they want to be. I feel like the luckiest person to get to be a part of that journey for my students."

Caroline Gross

Her principal Dr. Chantelle Zimmer called Branham a "model teacher in providing integrated lessons that are intentional and purposeful for all students." She added, "Dr. Branham goes beyond the call of duty to ensure that all of her students are successful in and out of the classroom."

Gross has taught at DME since 2018 after previously serving as a teacher assistant at the school. In addition to teaching her own students, she assists other teachers who need support for students who are displaying extreme behaviors through Project SOS. 

Gene CameronCameron has been LEMS principal since 2018. Under his leadership, LEMS was recently re-designated as a national School to Watch.  LEMS was the first school in the state to be named as a School to Watch in 2007 and has earned the honor every three years since. 

Truesdale is the 14th KCSD educator to receive the district’s award to honor first year teachers. As a teacher of students with profound intellectual disabilities, she uses music and movement to connect with her students and provides engaging hands-on activities to work toward mastery of her students' IEP goals.   

Jessica TruesdaleTruesdale's principal Matia Goodwin describes Truesdale as "nurturing and caring with all of her students." She adds that Truesdale has "built relationships with her parents, and loves every child in her classroom." 

Camden Middle School (CMS) ELA teacher Brooke Dixon was named first alternate for the Outstanding First Year Teacher Award. In addition to teaching, Dixon coaches the CMS girls basketball team.  CMS Principal Byron Johnson says she "has navigated the task of leading a winning team while keeping pace in the classroom." 

Other Outstanding First Year Teacher honor roll finalists are Abigail Baytes and Regan King, both from Camden High School. 

Brooke Dixon

All of the 2022 local school teachers of the year were honored at the celebration. They are:

  • Blaney Elementary - Megan Latter
  • Camden Elementary - Loren Carmon
  • Camden High - Lawrence McCallum
  • Camden Middle - Aretha Smith
  • CLC - Scott Sutton
  • Doby’s Mill Elementary - Caroline Gross
  • Jackson School - Kimm Mack
  • Lugoff Elementary - Karisa Zaprzalka
  • Lugoff-Elgin High - Peter Hemingway
  • Lugoff-Elgin Middle - Robbie Charles
  • Midway Elementary - Terri Odom
  • North Central Elementary - Meg Gardner
  • North Central High - Lauren Steele
  • North Central Middle - April Garbade
  • Pine Tree Hill Elem. - Christina Absher
  • Stover Middle - Dr. Linda Branham
  • Virtual Academy - Laina Shoemake
  • Wateree Elementary - Kristi Brown
  • WLC - Walker Canada

2022 TOY Honorees

Pictured: 2022 Teacher of the Year honorees Gene Cameron, District Principal of the Year; Dr. Linda Branham, District Teacher of the Year; Caroline Gross, 1st Alt. Teacher of the Year; Brooke Dixon, First Alt. Outstanding 1st Year Teacher; and Jessica Truesdale, Outstanding First Year Teacher.

Mary Anne Byrd