TRAVELERS REST, S.C. — Travelers Rest High School's Leigh Unterspan has earned the High School Teacher of Excellence Award from the South Carolina Council of Teachers of English, it was recently announced.
Unterspan, who teaches American Literature, English 3, and AP Language to juniors and seniors, is the only South Carolina teacher to be represented at the National Council of Teachers of English Teachers of Excellence Awards program later this year.
Unterspan said she encourages her students to find balance through choice.
"I think students write better about topics they care about," she explained. "One successful strategy is giving them time to choose books for their own interest that they can read outside the classroom."
And her teaching methods are reaping great rewards.
"One student said her mother couldn’t believe she read an entire book overnight," Unterspan said. "I believe that making space for titles they like to read really makes a difference in students’ success as a reader and writer.”
Unterspan also serves as a teacher consultant with the Upstate Writing Project, a program through Clemson University that gives teachers tools to help improve students’ writing abilities. Members of the group are currently working with teachers in rural South Carolina, helping them to learn how to help their students develop strong writing skills that will lead to college and career readiness.
"I am able to share with other teachers the philosophies that have meant the most to me," Unterspan said. "I share what I’ve done in my classroom and I give them examples of how to apply these techniques in their own classrooms."
Unterspan is a graduate of Furman University. She was a teacher at Wade Hampton High for five years before joining the Travelers Rest High teaching team.
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