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Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Two Midlands teachers are among the five finalists for South Carolina Teacher of the Year.

State School Superintendent Mick Zais released the names of the finalists Tuesday. The five-member group included Patrick Kelly of Blythewood High School and Vivian "Beth" Tuten of Swansea High School.

Kelly is a 12th grade Advanced Placement U.S. government and politics teacher, while Tuten is a high school special education teacher.

A panel of educators and private citizens chose the finalists. The judges did not know the names of the teachers or where they were from when they picked them.

The finalists will now have personal interviews with a seven-member state selection committee. The winner will be announced at a gala April 23rd at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.

The winner will receive a $25,000 cash award and a new BMW to use for one year. The four other finalists will receive $10,000. The person will also participate in a one-year residency program at the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement and serve as a statewide ambassador for the profession.

Here is the full list of finalists:

  • Jennifer Ainsworth, a high school moderate special needs teacher at Socastee High School, Horry County School District.
  • John "Jed" Dearybury, a 2nd grade teacher at Woodland Heights Elementary School, Spartanburg School District 6.
  • Rhonda Hudak, a 7th grade English Language Arts teacher at Rawlinson Road Middle School, Rock Hill School District 3.
  • Patrick Kelly, a 12th grade Advanced Placement U.S. government and politics teacher at Blythewood High School, Richland School District 2.
  • Vivian "Beth" Tuten, a high school special education teacher at Swansea High School, Lexington School District 4.
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