Jewel Mckenzie, born and raised in Clarendon county, is a teacher at East Clarendon Middle/High. She went to college to pursue her degree in Elementary Education. When she attended college in Nashville, Tennessee, it was called Free Will Baptist Bible College, but it is now known as Welch College. Her college experience was everything she imagined it would be. It was a small school and all-around wonderful. She teaches high school math. Her love for math has always been there. She had the same math teacher from her 7th-grade year of school up until her senior year. Math clicked for her when she started taking algebra. “It has always made sense to me, it’s like a big puzzle.”
She began her teaching career at several other schools before making it to East Clarendon. Starting at a Christian school in Pleasant View, Tennessee; then, proceeded to do one year at Williamsburg’s Academy (Kingstree S.C). Next, she did 7 years at BatteryPark located in Williamsburg County. She then made her final stop at East Clarendon Middle/High. She credits her college professor as her biggest motivation that inspired her to be where she is today. She was currently getting her degree in elementary education when her professor asked if she’d ever considered teaching secondary. At that time, she had never thought about it. She then realized she wanted to get a second degree as well. Ms. Mckenzie says her greatest success is when former students come to her and express how they have always understood everything she was teaching, how much they loved her and hearing how she was their favorite teacher.
Another success was being nominated teacher of the year for Clarendon School District 3. When asked what she loves most about teaching, Ms. Mckenzie replied, “The expression on a child’s face when they finally understand a problem.” When preparing a lesson, she tries to think of any questions her students could ask. This way she is prepared and ready to answer any questions they might have if they are confused. Relating math problems to real life is also what she does to make learning fun and interesting. She keeps two posters in her classroom: each of the posters says, “if you’re making mistakes, you’re learning!” and the other says, “Mistakes happen in this classroom.” She keeps these in her room for her students to understand and see that making mistakes happen especially when doing math. Ms. Mckenzie says the greatest challenge today teachers face is the lack of motivation from some students. “The period I grew up in there wasn’t as much technology as there is today. It is easier now for students to get distracted, and hard to find that self-motivation in students.”
At East Clarendon, they are currently implementing a hybrid model, which is a combination of virtual and face to face students. School is at a slower pace, especially considering they teach the same lessons two days in a row, to accommodate the other students that are doing virtual and the ones coming in the following day. She especially loves Clarendon School District 3 because they are like a family. Her colleagues are always helpful and the administration is always behind the school members 100%. Her goals every year are for each of her students to thrive and succeed. With COVID 19 making a huge appearance and shaking everyone’s lives across the world, she also says one of her goals is to “make it through this pandemic.” She is truly a hardworking teacher and does everything for her students and their futures. She plans to stay located at East Clarendon Middle/High and eventually retire in a few years.