Lexington-Richland School District Five announced its new Teacher of the Year and Support Employee of the Year during a May 16 ceremony.
Grace Abbott, an English teacher at Chapin High School, was named School District Five’s 2023-2024 Teacher of the Year during the district’s Employee Recognition Program. Elizabeth Balog, a social worker at Harbison West Elementary School, was named 2023-2024 Support Employee of the Year.
“To be able to celebrate education and our Teachers of the Year and our Support Employees of the Year tonight is a recognition to our community that shows how important our staff is to the vision of our district and that is to Love and Grow All Students,” School District Five Superintendent Dr. Akil Ross said. “All of our honorees are winners and are a great representation of our district and the fine profession of education.”
Abbott has served at Chapin High School since 2020. She began her teaching career in 2017. She received her bachelor’s degree in French and English from the University of South Carolina (USC) Honors College, and a masters of teaching English degree from USC.
“It is an immense honor and I am so glad that I get to represent my district and my students,” Abbott said. “I am amazed that this gets to happen to someone like me because I do what I do because of my love for teaching. I didn’t become a teacher for the fame and glory. I have an immense love for teaching and to see that recognized I am excited to celebrate that with the world.”
Balog joined School District Five 2 years ago. Prior to joining the district, she worked as a multidimensional family therapist.
“I feel very grateful and a bit shocked to win this honor,” Balog said. “I think I spent a lot of time reflecting on how privileged I have been over the past two years to work with some of the best people I have ever met…both staff members, students and parents. I just feel like I am very blessed to work with people who motivate and inspire me to do my best every day.”
Abbott and Balog were chosen by a committee after being named Honor Roll finalists in both categories. Along with Abbott, Cari Bonhomme from Chapin Middle and Dr. Sandra Markowitz from Chapin Intermediate were named as Teacher of the Year finalists. Clare Steele from Lake Murray Elementary and Tiffany Ulmer from the Academy For Success accompanied Balog as finalists for the year’s District’s Support Employee of the Year.
Pictured left to right are Rebecca Blackburn Hines, Elizabeth Balog, Grace Abbott, and Dr. Akil Ross.