Barnwell native Jeffery Gaines has been the band and choral director at Manning High School for three years.
Last week, he was recognized by his peers as the school's Teacher of the Year.
"I was speechless and humbled that my colleagues elected me to serve in the capacity of Teacher of the Year," Gaines said. "I am honored that I can represent our school."
A graduate of Barnwell High School, Gaines received a bachelor of music education, instrumental, from Newberry College in 2008, graduating cum laude. He received a master of education, classroom leadership, from Southern Wesleyan University in 2010 and a master of education, administration and supervision, from the same in 2017. He is currently endorsed for gifted and talented programs and is a certified mentor teacher.
He first taught at Blackville-Hilda public schools in Blackville, from 2008-11, as the band, choral music and gifted and talented enrichment instructor for grades five through 12. He also taught sixth- through eighth-grade band at at Southside Middle School in Florence from 2011-14.
At Manning High, he administers the instrumental and choral music programs.
"I direct the marching, concert, jazz and choral ensembles," he said. "I conduct rehearsals, develop, arrange and program instructional music literature for school and community performances. I evaluate student progress and provide individual and whole group assistance to ensure mastery of the content standards."
Gaines is also in charge of the program's budget.
"I manage, allocate and balance all budget transactions, including scheduling performances and fundraising activities," he said.
Outside of his instructional duties, Gaines is a member of the school's Leadership Team and is vice-chairman of the School Improvement Council. He is also a Critical Friends Group Mentor Teacher.
In addition, he also serves on the Palmetto State Arts Education Board of Directors, and is he a solo and ensemble site chairman for the South Carolina Band Directors Association.
"I knew in third grade that I wanted to be a teacher when I transformed my parent's back porch into Mr. Jeffery's classroom," he said. "After school, I would place all of my toys in rows and teach what I had learned in school that day. When I joined the band in sixth grade at Guinyard-Gutler Middle School, my teacher literally changed my life."
Gaines found the transition to middle school difficult, and the band room became a refuge.
"It was there where I learned my self-discipline and the value of persistence and discovered my love for music," he said.
After he was named the Most Valuable Player at the end of that school year, Gaines said he knew he wanted to "instill a love for music in others the same way my sixth-grade teacher did for me."
Gaines had become interested in music a year prior, after attending a recruitment concert featuring the same middle school band he would join in sixth grade.
"After the concert, I was able to meet with the students and test out mouthpieces for various instruments," he said. "I wanted to play the trumped, like my brother, but it turns out I was better suited for the trombone."
These days, the trombone remains one of his primary instruments, along with the baritone and tuba.
"In my role as a band director, I am able to play and teach all musical instruments," he noted.
He is also active in several professional associations, including as a member of the National Association for Music Education; the South Carolina Music Educators Association; and St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Barnwell, where he is also a Sunday school teacher and choir member.
He was named the 2011 Teacher of the Year in Blackville, and was a runner-up for the same award in 2013 at Southside Middle School. In 2014, he was the Five Star Optmist Teacher of the Year Award recipient in Florence. He was Teacher of the Year in 2014 at Southside Middle, and was Clarendon School District 2 Ambassador of the Year in 2016.
He said it's an honor for him to be in league with the district's other four teachers of the year. All five will now vie for the District Teacher of the Year award.
"It is an honor to serve with the finest practitioners of the profession," he said. "Whoever is awarded the district Teacher of the Year award will be a great representation of the caliber of professionals Clarendon School District 2 has to offer. It is indeed a pleasure and privilege to share this prestigious distinction among them."