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Union teacher of the year gets car

Getting named Union County's 2008 Teacher of the Year has its perks.

Some of those rewards were presented to Porter Ridge High Spanish teacher Jessica Garner during a recent luncheon celebration, starting with words of praise.

“Teaching is truly a calling. I tip my hat to you today,” said Superintendent Ed Davis. “To be singled out as Teacher of the Year, I can't think of a higher accomplishment.” Davis also unveiled a portrait of Garner that will join pictures of past honorees.

Garner, who has taught for 11 years, was selected last spring among nominees from each county school. She has spent the last three years at Porter Ridge High.

“I always wanted to be a teacher,” she said during the Aug. 21 luncheon. “The most important thing that I do is teach kids.”

Another gift: Garner turned the ignition on a new 2009 Chevrolet Malibu that she will drive for free for a year. The car was presented by Greg Lawrence, owner of Lawrence Chevrolet Pontiac Inc. of Pageland, S.C.

“It's really a great honor and pleasure for us to participate in this,” Lawrence said.

Garner, a married mother of two, expressed gratitude and told the group she's driven the same car she bought used 11 years ago.

Kent Gaither, with Jostens, presented a Teacher of the Year ring. Following the luncheon, a crowd released balloons as Garner, smiling, took a test drive in the new car in front of the high school.

Garner said she was overwhelmed. “I feel unworthy because I teach with so many wonderful teachers,” she said.

Top candidates for Teacher of the Year were evaluated by one committee and interviewed by another