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April 25, 2024
Grounds of the SC Governor’s Mansion


The annual South Carolina Teacher of the Year Gala, popularly known as the “Academy Awards” of teaching, will take place on April 25, 2024 on the grounds of the Governor’s mansion in Columbia, South Carolina. This event celebrated public education in S.C. and hosted district Teachers of the Year, legislators, business leaders, and community members to acknowledge the importance of the teaching profession. 

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2024 Gala in the Garden

April 25, 2024
Grounds of the SC Governor’s Mansion


The annual South Carolina Teacher of the Year Gala, popularly known as the “Academy Awards” of teaching, will take place on April 25, 2024 on the grounds of the Governor’s mansion in Columbia, South Carolina. This event celebrated public education in S.C. and hosted district Teachers of the Year, legislators, business leaders, and community members to acknowledge the importance of the teaching profession. 

About the South Carolina Education Foundation

The South Carolina Education Foundation (SCEF) was established by the South Carolina Department of Education under the leadership of State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman to support the state’s Teacher of the Year program. The South Carolina Teacher of the Year program celebrates excellence and strengthens the teaching force by honoring and recognizing exceptional teachers on a district, state, and national level. The award program and annual gala not only assist in retention efforts but serve as a powerful recruitment tool. The South Carolina Education Foundation (SCEF) supports the agency’s statutory requirement to administer the program by serving as the fundraising arm and fiscal agent for the annual gala and other related teacher of the year activities not funded by the General Assembly. The annual gala is sponsored and staffed by the South Carolina Department of Education, Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement, and professional teacher organizations and is held annually in May in the state’s capital of Columbia and brings together educators, business leaders, legislators, and community members in support of the teaching profession. The SCEF is funded entirely from private donations and will spends all proceeds in support in support of the South Carolina Teacher of the Year Program and retention efforts. The South Carolina Teacher of the Year serves for one school year as a roving ambassador providing mentoring, attending speaking engagements, working with teacher cadets and teaching fellows, leading the State Teacher Forum, and serving as the state spokesperson for over 50,000 educators.

About the South Carolina Education Foundation

The South Carolina Education Foundation (SCEF) was established by the South Carolina Department of Education under the leadership of State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman to support the state’s Teacher of the Year program. The South Carolina Teacher of the Year program celebrates excellence and strengthens the teaching force by honoring and recognizing exceptional teachers on a district, state, and national level. The award program and annual gala not only assist in retention efforts but serve as a powerful recruitment tool. The South Carolina Education Foundation (SCEF) supports the agency’s statutory requirement to administer the program by serving as the fundraising arm and fiscal agent for the annual gala and other related teacher of the year activities not funded by the General Assembly. The annual gala is sponsored and staffed by the South Carolina Department of Education, Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement, and professional teacher organizations and is held annually in May in the state’s capital of Columbia and brings together educators, business leaders, legislators, and community members in support of the teaching profession. The SCEF is funded entirely from private donations and will spends all proceeds in support in support of the South Carolina Teacher of the Year Program and retention efforts. The South Carolina Teacher of the Year serves for one school year as a roving ambassador providing mentoring, attending speaking engagements, working with teacher cadets and teaching fellows, leading the State Teacher Forum, and serving as the state spokesperson for over 50,000 educators.

South Carolina Education Foundation Board Members

Ellen Weaver

State Superintendent of Education

Ellen Weaver was elected as South Carolina’s 19th State Superintendent of Education on November 9th, 2022.  Born in Greenville, Ellen has spent her career as a passionate advocate for educational excellence and opportunity for every student in her beloved home state, because she knows first-hand that a great education is the front door of the American Dream.

Ellen graduated from a great public school and earned her B.A. in Political Science, as well as a Master’s in Educational Leadership, from Bob Jones University.  After graduation, she worked in Senator Jim DeMint’s office for 12 years in a variety of roles, finishing her time as his State
Director. She founded Palmetto Promise Institute, a leading state public policy organization, in 2013.  As President of Palmetto Promise, she worked tirelessly to improve the lives of her fellow-South Carolinians, with a specialized focus on education policy.

Between her research at Palmetto Promise and her work as a member and chair of the SC Education Oversight Committee, Ellen’s deep experience in education policy in South Carolina gave her a relentless passion for ensuring every child the hope and freedom found in an excellent education.

Ellen is focused on prioritizing the instruction of foundational skills, recruiting and retaining the best educators, and partnering with parents — as well as business and other community leaders— to prepare students for their personal path to success.

Ellen Weaver

State Superintendent of Education

Ellen Weaver was elected as South Carolina’s 19th State Superintendent of Education on November 9th, 2022.  Born in Greenville, Ellen has spent her career as a passionate advocate for educational excellence and opportunity for every student in her beloved home state, because she knows first-hand that a great education is the front door of the American Dream.

Ellen graduated from a great public school and earned her B.A. in Political Science, as well as a Master’s in Educational Leadership, from Bob Jones University.  After graduation, she worked in Senator Jim DeMint’s office for 12 years in a variety of roles, finishing her time as his State
Director. She founded Palmetto Promise Institute, a leading state public policy organization, in 2013.  As President of Palmetto Promise, she worked tirelessly to improve the lives of her fellow-South Carolinians, with a specialized focus on education policy.

Between her research at Palmetto Promise and her work as a member and chair of the SC Education Oversight Committee, Ellen’s deep experience in education policy in South Carolina gave her a relentless passion for ensuring every child the hope and freedom found in an excellent education.

Ellen is focused on prioritizing the instruction of foundational skills, recruiting and retaining the best educators, and partnering with parents — as well as business and other community leaders— to prepare students for their personal path to success.

Michael Brenan

State President, BB&T 

Michael R. Brenan is the State/Group President of BB&T for South Carolina, and serves on the SC Board of Education as the Governor’s Appointee. Mr. Brenan began his career in banking in 1975 as a management trainee. In 1988, he became the President and Chief Executive Officer of Bank One, Portsmouth, N.A. In 1994, he became Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of MainStreet Financial Corporation, a multi-bank holding company, headquartered in Virginia. In 1998 MainStreet was acquired by BB&T Corporation and Mr. Brenan subsequently moved to Columbia to assume his responsibilities with BB&T. Mr. Brenan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Bowling Green State University. Mr. Brenan currently serves on the board of directors of a number of organizations, including the University of South Carolina’s Business Partnership Foundation (Past Chairman), President’s Advisory Council of Clemson University, Claflin University, the South Carolina Bankers Association (Past Chairman), United Way of the Midlands (Past Chairman), South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (Past Chairman), South Carolina Chamber of Commerce (Chair-Elect), Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce (Chairman), Good to Great Foundation, Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics Foundation (Treasurer), SC Economics, BIPEC (Treasurer), Central SC Alliance, Midlands Business Leadership Group, Midlands Housing Alliance, Palmetto Business Forum, InvestSC, Palmetto AgriBusiness Council, and Palmetto Health Foundation. Mr. Brenan and his wife Julie have four children, Erin, Andrew, Rob, and Molly. 

Beth Phibbs

Executive Director, South Carolina Association of School Administrators 

Beth Phibbs has served as the Executive Director of the South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA), a professional organization of over 3600 principals, superintendents, and school leaders, since April 2015. Prior to being Executive Director, she served in key positions within the organization since 2006. Prior to joining SCASA in January of 2006, Beth served at the South Carolina Department of Education for 15 years working in the areas of career and technology, blue ribbon schools, education policy and leadership. In addition to political and state department experience, Beth also offers educational experience as a non-profit administrator and teacher. With these varied experiences, Beth has the proven ability to serve as an educational ambassador. 

Michael Brenan

State President, BB&T 

Michael R. Brenan is the State/Group President of BB&T for South Carolina, and serves on the SC Board of Education as the Governor’s Appointee. Mr. Brenan began his career in banking in 1975 as a management trainee. In 1988, he became the President and Chief Executive Officer of Bank One, Portsmouth, N.A. In 1994, he became Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of MainStreet Financial Corporation, a multi-bank holding company, headquartered in Virginia. In 1998 MainStreet was acquired by BB&T Corporation and Mr. Brenan subsequently moved to Columbia to assume his responsibilities with BB&T. Mr. Brenan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Bowling Green State University. Mr. Brenan currently serves on the board of directors of a number of organizations, including the University of South Carolina’s Business Partnership Foundation (Past Chairman), President’s Advisory Council of Clemson University, Claflin University, the South Carolina Bankers Association (Past Chairman), United Way of the Midlands (Past Chairman), South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (Past Chairman), South Carolina Chamber of Commerce (Chair-Elect), Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce (Chairman), Good to Great Foundation, Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics Foundation (Treasurer), SC Economics, BIPEC (Treasurer), Central SC Alliance, Midlands Business Leadership Group, Midlands Housing Alliance, Palmetto Business Forum, InvestSC, Palmetto AgriBusiness Council, and Palmetto Health Foundation. Mr. Brenan and his wife Julie have four children, Erin, Andrew, Rob, and Molly. 

Beth Phibbs

Executive Director, South Carolina Association of School Administrators 

Beth Phibbs has served as the Executive Director of the South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA), a professional organization of over 3600 principals, superintendents, and school leaders, since April 2015. Prior to being Executive Director, she served in key positions within the organization since 2006. Prior to joining SCASA in January of 2006, Beth served at the South Carolina Department of Education for 15 years working in the areas of career and technology, blue ribbon schools, education policy and leadership. In addition to political and state department experience, Beth also offers educational experience as a non-profit administrator and teacher. With these varied experiences, Beth has the proven ability to serve as an educational ambassador. 

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If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please use the form below to contact us or email us at etmontgomery@ed.sc.gov.