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Articles

Oconee Co. Schools names SWU graduate Teacher of the Year

    08.26.15 | Success Stories: Education - Bachelor's Success Stories: Education Education

    For Joey Bryson, education is more than just a career – it’s a way of life.

    Bryson, a 2003 Southern Wesleyan University special education graduate and a teacher at West-Oak Middle School, embraces the challenges of teaching special education, recalling the difference teachers made in the life of a cousin who had Muscular Dystrophy. Bryson can’t recall a time in her life when she didn’t want to become a teacher. She realized her calling into education when she was a high school student serving as a teaching assistant in a special needs classroom.

    The School District of Oconee County affirmed Bryson’s dedication by naming her Teacher of the Year.

    “I’m honored and humbled to represent my students and their parents, West-Oak Middle School and the School District of Oconee County,” Bryson said, adding that she doesn’t take her honor lightly.

    “The joys of being a special education teacher are too numerous to list. The relationship that I am able to establish with my students and their families is something that many teachers never experience,” she said. “Teaching my students to focus on their abilities rather than their disabilities, then witnessing their success is a feeling that can only be described as pure bliss.”

    Bryson believes the greatest challenge of being a special education teacher is being able to find the balance of flexibility and structure in times of chaos.

    She enrolled at Southern Wesleyan’s adult evening program because it offered her a flexible course of study that allowed for a balance between her education, family life and fulltime work.

    “Without the flexibility of SWU’s adult evening program, I would not have been able to have achieved my dream of being a teacher,” she said. “While earning my degree at SWU, I was able to work with a faculty and participate in classes with students who understood the meaning of flexibility.”

    She also credits her education for imparting life lessons that helped her to be more understanding of life’s circumstances and the true meaning of fairness.

    “Fairness is exhibited when everyone receives what they need in order to reach their fullest potential,” she said.