Educators Honored by a Thousand Guests at Annual Gala
More than a thousand community partners and supporters of public education traveled “through the looking glass” and followed the “yellow brick road” on Saturday evening, to honor 84 teachers and seven star principals at the 4th Annual An Evening With the Stars Educator Gala.
Spotlighting literacy in a fun and festive fashion, guests experienced atmospheres and characters from famous books…spanning the literary landscape from children’s tales to F. Scott Fitzgerald and J.R.R. Tolkien.
“Playing Cards” (students from Fort Johnson Middle School) greeted attendees as they arrived through the Alice in Wonderland enchanted landscape, stopping to nibble treats at the Mad Hatter’s tea table and to have a chat with Alice, Rabbit, Tweedle Dee and Dum, and many other friends from Wonderland.
The next stop was the “help desk” for CCSD’s 100% online silent auction. (Special thanks to Lillian Aquino and Verizon for making this event WIRELESS for the first time!) Bidding quickly heated up as guests browsed the 300+ items, which ran the gamut from travel, to health and beauty, to sports packages, to food and wine, and so much more. Using smart phones and complementary tablets, bidders had the chance to track their items real time, watch trending items, and watch the fundraising thermometer rise throughout the night. Even those unable to make the party were able to bid from home!
Medieval music beckoned guests to the Lord of the Rings terrace, where they met Gandolf and Frodo, and had the chance to purchase a “precious” ring to enter a drawing for a $2,500 diamond and sapphire ring from Kiawah Jewelers. (Keisha DaQuigan was the lucky winner!)
Classic jazz from the Joe Clark Trio got folks moving in the Great Gatsby room, where VIPs mingled at the beginning of the evening, and everyone enjoyed the gaming tables throughout the night.
Dorothy and her friends greeted everyone at the Yellow Brick Road, and posed for photos in front of the Great and Powerful Oz’s Emerald City backdrop.
The main ballroom was a true Fairytale Wonderland, complete with a breathtaking 24 foot castle made by CCSD parent Bill Cantrell. Cinderella’s carriage was the centerpiece of the room, but the Mistress of Ceremonies, Princess Tiana (News 2’s Octavia Mitchell) was the grand princess of the evening in her lovely ballgown!
Octavia, Scott, and the WCBD News 2 team did an incredible job helping to promote the gala, in addition to their support as our media sponsor on the night of the big event.
The City of North Charleston—this year’s Presenting Sponsor—played a critical role in the amazing success of the event, which was held at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Convention Center. “A program of this magnitude would not have happened without the full support and backing of the City of North Charleston,” said Superintendent McGinley in her remarks. She also paid special thanks to Chief Eddie Driggers and the North Charleston Police Department, for sponsoring the Outstanding Educators and for their on-going partnership and presence in CCSD’s schools.
Dr. McGinley’s message focused on how community support and investment make a difference—the difference—in the lives of children and educators. She shared the new CCSD teacher recruitment video, reminding everyone that “we are all recruiters” and asking the crowd to encourage young adults to choose teaching to “help us champion public education.”
Prizes and surprises peppered the night, and a few of the highlights included:
- Debbie Perry, Teacher of the Year from Daniel Jenkins, winning a year's lease on a car from Crews Chevrolet.
- Star Principal Kala Goodwine from Baptist Hill winning two roundtrip tickets from Southwest Airlines.
- In addition to an unprecedented amount of professional development funding (the live and silent auctions alone raised over $35,000) the event supported:
- 150 Book Bundles for the at-home literacy initiative for some of CCSD’s highest potential students who do not have reading materials in their homes.
- 600+ personalized books to honor teachers in CCSD schools (the “Honor an Educator” books may be purchased through March 1 online.)
The evening concluded with more dancing to the hits from Charleston Groove Factory, a lively live auction with Ken French, and a spectacular outdoor fireworks show!
Educator effectiveness is the key to student achievement. The annual gala honors CCSD’s Teachers of the Year from each school, and the annual Star Principals, but the funds generated from this spectacular night are used to hold a world-class, research-based professional development conference available to ALL CCSD teachers. The Charleston Educator Symposium reflects the superb level of respect and support that we have for our educators in Charleston County.
Again, this is why we wish to thank EVERYONE who made the evening possible, but especially:
…our sponsors who’ve been faithful gala supporters since the first event, helping to turn this event into the premiere Charleston extravaganza of the year.
The City of North Charleston
The City of Charleston
The Town of Mt. Pleasant
Cummins Turbo Technologies (and Steve Clayton)
Young Clement Rivers, LLP
The Post and Courier
The College of Charleston
The Medical University of South Carolina
Charleston Development Academy
Palmetto Behavioral Health
Crews Chevrolet (and Robert Crews)
…and our Platinum, Signature, and Gold Sponsors, who make a huge financial investment to demonstrate their commitment to quality public education.
Our Platinum Sponsor
Fuel Digital Marketing and Branding
Our Signature Sponsors
Our Gold Sponsors
Cummins Turbo Technologies
Young Clement Rivers, LLP (and Wilbur Johnson)
Suite Tea Holding, Inc.
Durham School Services (and Dave Brabender)
Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd P.A.
The Post and Courier (and Robie Scott)
McGraw Hill Education
Reading Warehouse (and Frank Bowdoin)