Ms. Octavia Anderson is a 1999 graduate of Eau Claire High School in Columbia, South Carolina. Anderson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Family and Consumer Science from Winthrop University, a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Texas State University and is currently pursuing a Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from Liberty University. Her first teaching assignment was at Garner Magnet High School in Garner, North Carolina. Then, Ms. Anderson moved to the state of Texas and taught kindergarten and high school. During these early years, she learned that she “really enjoyed teaching and being able to positively impact the lives of students!"
On November 20, 2020, the Lee County School District selected Ms. Octavia Anderson as the 2020-2021 District Teacher of the Year. Currently, Ms. Anderson serves as a Family and Consumer Science Teacher at the Lee County Career and Technology Center, in Bishopville, South Carolina.
SCASCD had an opportunity to ask this brilliant teacher, who describes what she does as being “a servant,” some thought-provoking questions about her teaching career:
Q: What word would you use to describe your teaching style?
A: “Facilitator." Ms. Anderson stated that she learned that giving students all the information and cramming them with knowledge didn’t work. Through discussions with members from the world of manufacturing and business, she found out that students need to collaborate and that an effective teacher is a facilitator. Ms. Anderson stated, “I provide them with Project Based Learning (PBL) and research-based instruction so that they will be able to work through the problem-solving process and find solutions.”
Q: How do you make sure every child is healthy and safe in your classroom?
A: Ms. Anderson discussed, "I establish clear rules and expectations early on in the school year and following through with consequences when dealing with students." In her Family and Consumer Science classes, she aims to work toward a family-oriented and inclusive environment in her classrooms. She wants students to look out for each other. Ms. Anderson stressed that "As a teacher in the classroom, it is important to be vigilant. And always have a plan for anything that could come up."
Q: What techniques do you incorporate in your classroom to engage your students?
A: Ms. Octavia Anderson has used projects and lab activities in her Family and Consumer Science classes, where students get to create and design. Her students love hands-on activities. In one project, her students had to research different countries and their food customs. As part of the final presentation, students had to create a dish from that country and a PowerPoint presentation. She engages her students through thinking and problem-solving activities. In her classes, students love technology, games, and competitions. She has incorporated field studies in her course curriculum. Ms. Octavia Anderson has taken students to Horry-Georgetown Technical College to visit the Culinary Arts Institute. These experiences have helped students make honest career and college decisions.
Q: How do you provide support to your students?
A: Ms. Anderson shared that she builds relationships with students. Every day, Ms. Octavia Anderson can be seen at her door greeting her students. Her students always ask, “Why are you always smiling?” She stated, “The kids need to see someone with a positive attitude each day.” She stressed, "the importance of meeting students where they are at." Ms. Anderson advocates for students when necessary. With Ms. Anderson, students feel comfortable sharing issues that they are facing. Ms. Octavia Anderson has a strong faith life, which allows her to provide hope and encouragement to her students. She treats everyone with love and respect.
Q: How do you support the teachers that you lead and mentor?
A: Ms. Octavia Anderson answered, “I lead by example. I try to do what I am supposed to do.” Building relationships with all teachers on her team is essential. She keeps a positive attitude with teachers. Daily, Ms. Anderson can be found sharing her knowledge and ideas through conversations, texts, and emails with her team.
Q: How do you challenge your students?
A: Ms. Anderson answered, “I like to find out what students are interested in. I want to push them out of their comfort zones." She continually asks students questions to stretch their mindsets, like “What could you do to take it to the next level?” She wants her students to be the BEST.
A quote from Scott Hayden reads, “Teachers have three loves: love of learning, love of learners, and the love of bringing the first two loves together.” This quote describes Ms. Octavia Anderson. Her “servant-style” teaching motivates even the most challenging students to go beyond their self-imposed limits and reach Ms. Anderson’s expectations of being the BEST.