Choice, The PSTA Newsletter

We are here for you so you can be there for your students!

A Letter From Kathy

In this issue of "Choice" you will see the 2020 Palmetto State Teachers Association Legislative Agenda. I am pleased that our educator led Board of Directors has adopted a teacher first agenda. Please read it carefully, and let us know your thoughts so we can best advocate for you. We are already off to a busy start in the General Assembly as we continue to be a voice for educators here in Columbia. I encourage you to pay close attention to our social media posts, emails, and website updates regarding upcoming legislation and ways that you can help us advocate for your students and profession. You have already received many LANs (Legislative Alert Network) on S419-the Education Reform Bill- and S556-the Voucher Bill. I hope you have contacted your legislators. We encourage educators to use their teacher voices to engage with elected officials. If you are unsure of how to get started or feel overwhelmed with the process, see our 5 Tips for Advocacy mentioned later in this newsletter to help you get started using your teacher voice.

You will also see details about our 2020 Annual Business Meeting in March as well as this year's Slate of Officers. As we settle into 2020, let's all have the vision to advocate for the sake of our students. They are counting on us!

Kathy Maness

Executive Director, PSTA

2020 PSTA Legislative Agenda

Click the image above to read this year's legislative agenda.

2020 Slate of Officers

Our annual business meeting will be held on Saturday, March 28th, at Charleston Southern University. The following educators have been recommended to fill the following positions on PSTA's Board of Directors.

Treasurer: Zoan Stokes

Zoan is a proud wife and mother of two beautiful girls. After completing her Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education at South Carolina State University, she taught in 1st and 2nd grade classrooms for 13 years. Her passion for teaching led her to pursue a Master of Education degree in Reading from The Citadel. Zoan currently serves a Master Reading Teacher for Charleston County at North Charleston Creative Arts Elementary School.

Secretary: Patrick Kelly

Patrick Kelly works in a hybrid role teaching AP U.S. Government and Politics at Blythewood High School and serves as Coordinator of Professional Learning for Richland School District 2 outside of Columbia, S.C.
Mr. Kelly served as a U.S. Department of Education Classroom Teaching Ambassador Fellow in 2015-2016 and as a Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow in 2016-2017. In these roles, he coordinated and helped conduct outreach to more than 12,000 teachers in order to better inform the work of the Department. During his time in Washington, Mr. Kelly worked on a range of policy topics including assessment, diversity, teacher leadership, and systems of support for educators.
Mr. Kelly is certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and was one of five finalists for South Carolina State Teacher of the Year in 2014. He currently serves as a member of the Executive Board of Directors for the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement. He is also a member of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year and is a regular contributor for Education Post.

District 2: Frances Meetze

Frances Meetze is in her 14th year teaching, and she is in her second year at Gilbert High School in Lexington School District One teaching US History and Government and Economics. She has taught middle school in Richland School District 2 and US History, AP US History, and AP Human Geography at Mid Carolina High School in Newberry County. She is a National Board certified teacher and was named the District Teacher of the Year for Newberry County in 2016. She lives in Gilbert with her husband, also an educator, and her two son, Lucas and Jacob. She enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and traveling whenever she can!

District 4: Kirby Register Hall

Kirby Register Hall is a South Carolina native, from Darlington. She married in November of 2019 and moved to Hartsville with her husband, Logan Hall. Kirby graduated from Francis Marion University with her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education followed by a Master’s degree in Instructional Accommodations. She believes that education is the key to success and is currently working on her second Master’s degree, from the University of South Carolina, in Administration. Kirby currently serves as third grade teacher and member of the leadership team at Spaulding Elementary School. She has held the honor of Teacher of the Year for Spaulding Elementary and Novice Educator for Francis Marion University.

District 6: Nicole Gardin

Nicole Smith Gardin teaches in Union, SC. This is her 16th year teaching. She currently teaches fifth grade but has also taught third and fourth grades. She has spent her career at Jonesville Elementary School which is now a K-8 school named Jonesville Elementary Middle School. She is a mentor teacher and a 4.0 Evaluator. She helped write her district’s Curriculum Framework, and she is presently on the team that is tasked with writing the ELA Curriculum Guide. She was named District Teacher of the Year for Union County in 2018 and led the District Forum that year. She received a Bachelor’s degree from USC- Upstate and a Masters in Literacy from Converse College. She lives with her husband and daughter, who is a Special Education teacher. She has two sons who live and work elsewhere. She has 2 dogs and 3 cats who share her home. She also has 6 rescue cats outside.

Congratulations Scholarship Winners!

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We are excited to award seven members with the Dr. Elizabeth Gressette Professional Development Scholarship this year. These PSTA members will receive a check for $1,500 on March 28th at EdCamp Palmetto. These winners include Stephanie Bailey, Laura Beckham,

Nancy Crowe, Kirby Hall, Sherrie Jefferies, Krista Schnider, and Robin Wilson.

Stephanie Bailey is a Secondary Science Teacher at Aiport High School. She is pursuing a Doctorate in Teaching and Learning at the University of South Carolina. Bailey was Teacher of the Year at Airport High School in 2013.

Laura Beckham currently works as a Digital Learning Coach at Pelion Middle School. She is pursuing an Education Specialist Degree at Converse College.

Nancy Crowe is a Physical Education Teacher at McCarthy Teszler School. She is pursuing a Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of South Carolina.

Kirby Hall is currently a Third Grade Math and Science Teacher at Spaulding Elementary School. She is pursuing an Education Administration Degree at the University of South Carolina. Hall is the Teacher of the Year at Spaulding Elementary.

Sherrie Jefferies currently works as a Reading Recovery Interventionist at Drayton Mills Elementary School. She is pursuing a Doctorate in Professional Leadership at Converse College.

Krista Schnider is a teacher at Northwest Middle School. She is pursuing a Masters of Instructional Design and Learning Technology at Anderson University.

Robin Wilson is a Special Education Teacher at Tall Pines STEM Academy. Wilson is pursuing a Master of Science in Data Science and Analytics at Clemson University.

5 Tips for Advocacy

This year more than ever teachers need to use their teacher voices. Here are some tips to get started.

1. Identify yourself as a teacher and/or a constituent.

2. Know your facts. Don't show up uninformed. Knowing your information ahead of time is to your benefit and theirs. If you don’t know exactly what to say, please send us an email and we will be more than happy to assist you.

3. Localize your information. Have a specific purpose in mind with your letter, email, phone call, or personal visit.

4. Get to the point and state your position. Your time, as well as theirs, is valuable. Plan ahead and make your case.

5. Be respectful. Make sure you are respectful when making your case even if it is not received in the way you want it to be.

PSTA Virtual Hill Day

Date: March 3, 2020

We are excited to host our first PSTA Virtual Hill Day on March 3, 2020! The PSTA Virtual Hill Day will help connect teachers with members of the General Assembly. This will give teachers from across the state the opportunity to express their concerns, ideas, and thoughts on public education in South Carolina.

We will be sending out more information on how you can participate in our Virtual Hill Day via our Legislative Alert Network and social media outlets. Make sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram @pstanews and Facebook at Palmetto State Teachers Association for updates!

Member Incentive Continues

Palmetto State Teachers Association is excited to introduce our new incentive program. For every new member* you sign up, you will receive a $10 gift card (up to $499 each year). Please feel free to print a membership application here and sign up as many new members as you can!! If you have any questions please contact our office at 803-256-2065 or email us at

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PSTA Teacher Clothes Closet

PSTA is excited to host Teacher Clothes Closet events across the state to provide preservice students and first year teachers with free professional clothes to wear on interviews and in the classroom.

We currently have events scheduled for the following areas:

SC State University Turner Hall

Thursday, March 5 1:00-6:00 PM

Francis Marion University Student Center

Friday, March 6 12:00-5:00 PM

Newberry College School of Education Growth Symposium

Friday, March 20 9:00 AM-1:00 PM

Charleston Southern University Student Center(in connection with EdCamp Palmetto)

Saturday, March 28 9:00 AM-1:00 PM

College partners who would like to schedule an event at their school can email for more information.

Stay tuned to our social media for updates on the Teacher Clothes Closet events!

Edcamp Palmetto: March 28, 2020: Charleston Southern University

By: Craig King, Director of Teacher Leadership

We are so excited about Edcamp Palmetto being held on March 28, 2020, on the campus of Charleston Southern University. If you have attended our Edcamps before, then you know how awesome they are. Registration is open and you can click on the link to register. Slots will fill up fast, so register today! This is a FREE professional development for educators in South Carolina! If the event has sold out, please click on the waiting list link. See you in Charleston!

Edcamp Palmetto Registration Link:

Waiting List Link:

Edcamp Palmetto Promo Video:

Special thanks to our sponsors who make each event possible. Thank you to our former Director of Communications and Professional Development, Jed Dearybury, for introducing EdCamp to PSTA.

Updating Membership

By: Patrick Cauthen, Membership Director

I hope everybody has had a great start to the New Year! I would like to remind you of the importance of keeping your online membership profile up to date. Please take a few minutes and log into your interactive profile at Below are the steps to take to update your membership profile.

1. Click “Member Login” on the top right of our home page.

2. Under “Member Center” select “My Profile.”

3. Scroll down on your profile and select “Edit” in order to update your information.

Please make sure the email we have on file is up to date. Without an active email address, you will not receive any correspondence from Palmetto State Teachers Association. If the email we have on file is no longer valid and you cannot log into our website, please contact our office at 803-256-2065 or I hope you have a great rest of your school year!

By: Patrick Cauthen, Membership Director

Recognizing and Rewarding STAR Teachers

By: Toni Chewning, Director of Association Activities

Through our partnership with the Foundation for Professional Development, PSTA hosts two STAR Teacher Seminars each year. These seminars focus on recognizing and rewarding veteran teachers from across South Carolina. Each fall and spring, a carefully chosen group of ten teachers spends a week on beautiful Seabrook Island at St. Christopher Conference Center. During the week, the teachers will participate in a book study, go on a beachwalk with a naturalist(complete with a pluff mud pit) and explore downtown Charleston on a guided tour. There's also plenty of time during the week to reflect, renew and relax on the beach or in your private room. This amazing week is offered at no cost to the district or the teachers. The Foundation pays for substitute teachers. mileage, rooms and all meals.

Past STAR Teachers describe this seminar as one of the best experiences they've had during their career. STAR isn't just professional development, it's development for professionals!

For more information and to apply, visit our webpage at or email

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National Board Renewal Workshop

PSTA is partnering with CERRA and the SC National Board Network to offer a National Board Initial Candidate Workshop. Stay tuned for more information! Toni Chewning and Craig King will be presenting and breakfast will be provided. For more information or to register, visit

If your district would like to host an Initial Certification Workshop or Renewal Workshop, please contact Toni Chewning at

A Letter From the President

By: Nikkina McKnight, President

Is it Winter, Summer, Spring or Fall? Tornadoes, Heavy rains, beautiful unexpected snow showers...does that remind you of anything we deal with on a daily basis? It does for me, my classroom. As I reflect over the past few weeks of crazy, unpredictable South Carolina weather, I am reminded of how crazy and unpredictable our classroom and schools can be. Sometimes things happen in our classrooms and we are nowhere near ready, but as great teachers we strap on our boots, put on our weather gear and go in head first.

As we head into this quarter of this school year, here are a few helpful strategies to help us weather the storms of our classrooms:

Stay Positive

The number one tip that all veteran teachers gave was to stay positive. It’s easy to think negatively about everything in your life. But even though it may take some daily practice on your part, staying positive will pay off. Focus on what is going right in your classroom and choose to live and learn from your mistakes. Keeping up this positive attitude will not only help you through the tough times, but it may rub off on your students as well.

Laugh Often

You have all heard the saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Well, this holds true when it comes to feeling teacher burnout too. Do something every day that will make you laugh, like watch a comedy on TV, read a funny teacher meme, or do something silly with your students. Try not to take yourself too seriously, and try to laugh more often.

Find Time to Self-Reflect

Self-reflection is a great way for you to think about went well with your day. Ask yourself everyday “What went well today?” “What did I do today, that my students will be able to take with them for the rest of their lives?” It has even been proven in research that by just taking just a few minutes to reflect each day can improve our overall well-being. So, if studies show that it helps, then you might as well try it.

Talk About it

If you are going through a tough time with one of your students, or you are feeling overwhelmed with grading papers, then chances are you are not alone. There are other teachers in your school that have gone through the same thing as you or have felt the same way that you are feeling. Seek out your colleagues and talk to them about what you are going through. Chances are they totally understand and will have some great advice for you.

Stay Grounded

This means in order to maintain your balance and stability, you must keep firmly rooted within yourself. If you are going through a tough time in the external world, it may be causing your inner self some conflict. Your mind may wander and get caught up in all of your stresses. So in order to change that, you need to stay centered within yourself. For example, if you find that you are around someone in the faculty lounge who is triggering frustration in you or giving you anxiety, then being grounded can help.

Being grounded is a mindset that you have to have in order to get through difficult situations. If you feel yourself getting pulled into a negative situation, and you find that you are feeling tense, try taking a moment to feel your feet pressing against the ground, and bring your awareness to each part of your body. This will help you stay centered within yourself.

Be Confident in Your Teaching Abilities

Having confidence in your own abilities as a teacher will help you get through any tough time that you are having within your job. You need to remind yourself (sometimes daily) that you have worked very hard to get to where you are today, and that you have spent years of college and interning to have your own classroom. Be confident in your ability to teach, and remind yourself that you know what is best for you and your students.

Remember, YOU’VE GOT THIS and YOU WERE MADE FOR THIS so let’s pull up those boot straps and get back to work! We have students depending on us to do what only we can for them!

Nikkina McKnight

President, PSTA

AMBA Benefits

PSTA has partnered with Association Member Benefits Advisors (AMBA) so that you have access to exceptional member benefits. Click the image to see the specifics for PSTA members.

BookBag Edventures

PSTA is excited to offer our members a chance to visit classrooms around the world through our partnership with BookBag Edventures. BBE gives teachers a life-altering chance to connect face-to-face, share their stories and expand their skills all while traveling the globe. Trips are offered throughout the year! Visit to begin your adventures!

2020 Census

Don't forget Census Day is April 1st, 2020!
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