Deserving. Adored by many. Unparalleled work ethic.

Those words were used Monday to describe Heather Calliham, who was named the 2021-22 Teacher of the Year in Greenwood School District 50.

Teachers celebrated each other as the teacher of the year for each school was recognized.

To the judges, Calliham, a first-grade teacher at Rice Elementary School, stood out above the rest.

“This year’s district teacher of the year is described by their principal as being very deserving of this prestigious award,” Christopher Moseley, last year’s district teacher of the year and one of the emcees for the event, said ahead of announcing the winner.

“This person’s work ethic is unparalleled and they go above and beyond to instill a love of learning in their students to ensure academic success. They’re adored by their students, students’ families and respected by their colleagues.”

Calliham tearfully thanked her colleagues and administration at Rice for the support.

“This has been an extremely challenging school year for me,” she said.

“Not because of COVID, that’s like a pebble in the boulders for the things I’ve faced this year. I’ve lost my dad, and I prayed that school would start back just so I could put my energy into something, and being back at Rice, I couldn’t have asked for a better team, a better admin.”

District Superintendent Steve Glenn thanked all the teachers of the year for the work they’ve done with the students in the district.

He cited the three songs played by Surrender Cobra, the opening act for the ceremony.

“The three songs they sang, ‘Stand By Me,’ ‘Come Together’ and ‘Moving on Up,’ those are the three things I really feel like we’ve done a great job with this year in this school district,” Glenn said.

“We strive hard every year to recruit good people and hire good people and retain good people, but I’m telling you it all starts when you close that door and magic happens in that classroom, doesn’t it?”

Glenn cited “unbelievable” MAP testing scores, especially in lower elementary grades, and talked about how the school district came together for the school year.

“We came together — remember the beginning of the year? Lord have mercy, I didn’t think we’d make it to Labor Day,” Glenn said.

“Five days a week y’all came to school and did what’s best for our students. You did that. That was amazing, people in your buildings did that. Principals and custodians and cafeteria workers and everybody that came together to bring our district where we are. I just want to say thank you and congratulations again.”

Contact staff writer Lindsey Hodges at 864-943-5644 or on Twitter @LindseyNHodges.