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Columbia, SC (WLTX) - There were five finalists, from all around the state. But this year's honor of SC Teacher of the Year went to Amy McAllister, ahigh school english teacher in Florence County.

Even though our Midlands finalists didn't win, they told News19 thatit's really about the love of teaching, and learning.

"It really was not the thing thatI thoughtI would do,"explainsPatricia Swinton, "But the first timeI stood in front of that class, and those students looked at me andI looked at them, it was really electric."

And 33 years later, shestill gets a charge out of her job. Swinton teaches anatomy and biology at ACFlora High in Columbia. "I have the best students in the world. It really is a joy for me to go in that classroom everyday with them," she says.

Phillip Rabon, social studies teacher at Pair Education Center in West Columbia is another finalist. "It's an alternative school. So we have some kids there who have made some bad decisions at some point in their life. AndI try and teach them that it's not the end of the world, that they can change at any point in time,"he explains.

His love of teaching developed early. "I had some great teachers growing up andI had a lot of great experiences in the classroom."

Song came early to the Midlands' third finalist: Helen Walker, amusic teacher at Doby's Mill Elementary in Lugoff. "Just the love of teaching and learning, and a passion for music that my parents shared with me growing up," she recalls.

Her students this year have already shownthe England nativehow much that love means to them. "They've been calling me Queen Walker all year, as it is. I have a chair in my classroom that's got 'Queen Walker' on it.I have had the royal treatment, literally and figuratively,I really have from my students," she laughs.

It's red carpet treatment that the teachers here wish for all. Says Walker, "It means the world to us."

The Teacher of the Year, Amy McAllister,will receive$25,000 and aBMW for one year. The four other finalists, including our three Midlands teachers, each get $10,000.

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