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Harbor View Teacher of the Year instills love for exercise in students

    04.02.15 | Charleston Teacher of the Year Success Stories: Education Education

    Staci Ulichnie, named Teacher of the Year by her peers at Harbor View Elementary School, is a Southern Wesleyan University student working towards her master of education in classroom leadership degree.

    Students in Ulichnie's class have opportunties for movement while learning. An example is this kinesthetic bike/desk.






    “Being recognized as Teacher of the Year is such an honor,” Ulichnie said. “It’s a great feeling knowing I am giving back to the learning community of James Island.”

    Ulichnie has wanted to be a teacher from a very young age and credits her parents, Lester and Terri Ulichnie, for inspiring and encouraging her. Staci had the privilege of teaching at Harbor View with her mother before she retired.

    “We have a complicated last name, but the pronunciation is easy (U-litch-knee). My mom went by ‘Mrs. U’ and I was known as ‘Ms. U2,’” she said. “My mom is my favorite teacher because I see a lot of my teaching mannerisms in her. She is patient, fun, and hard working. I hope I can be a Harbor View legacy like her one day.” She also praised her father for being a great coach and leader.

    Harbor View is a special place for Ulichnie, who was once a student there. She remembered how she enjoyed being part of a running club at Harbor View, and, as a teacher, she brought the club back to life.

    “Last year I had around 60 fourth- and fifth-grade students who ran every Tuesday with me,” she said. “Now, our club has 90 kids on the roster. We run anywhere from 2-4 miles each practice.” Her students have set goals to reach at least 100 miles by the end of the school year. They take running seriously, having recently competed in a local track meet and to come out with 18 students qualified for district competition.

    Seeing exercise balls and a kinesthetic bike/desk in Ulichnie’s classroom shows her love for fitness; she believes in keeping her students moving as they learn.

    “My purpose is to instill a love for exercising and physical well-being in all my students,” she said. She also likes to teach about electric circuits, saying that there’s just something about students taking what they have learned and being able to create circuits successfully.

    “When they see their light bulb shine, they smile and my heart does too,” she said.

    After her third year of teaching, Ulichnie decided she was ready to get her master’s degree, but couldn’t decide between administration and a specific content area. She looked at Southern Wesleyan’s MEDCL program and decided it was a perfect fit.

    “This degree was just what I was looking for. I am able to become a better teacher and this degree allows growth in the future,” Ulichnie said, adding that she likes the convenience of having an online program. She also feels that her classmates have been a tremendous support both academically and spiritually.

    “I recently just lost my grandfather and the amount of prayer and concern my cohort displayed was incredible,” she said. “We collaborate on a professional level but are able to enjoy one another too. I enjoy reading everyone’s insightful discussions. I am learning a lot from this group!”

    With regional education centers conveniently located across South Carolina, as well as fully online programs for select degrees, Southern Wesleyan University is a Christ-centered, student-focused learning community devoted to transforming lives by challenging students to be dedicated scholars and servant-leaders who impact the world for Christ. For details about degree programs, visit