Excellence in Education Comes Full Circle
Anne Eddy (above)
Sue West (below)
When Hilton Head Christian Academy math & Bible teacher Anne Rowe Eddy accepted the Sue West Educator of the Year award from the Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, an education legacy came full circle.
Years ago, a petite, "slip" of a science teacher, by the name of Sue West, captivated her students with her passion for her subject matter and challenged them with her integrity and high expectations. One of those students, Anne Rowe looked forward to time spent in West's specimen-laden classroom. "You could tell that she absolutely loved it, and she made us love it too," remembers Eddy. "She had high expectations of us, and she made us want to achieve them." Anne learned her lessons well, and today, she employs many of the same concepts in her own classroom, encouraging students to a higher level of thinking.
Who was Sue West?
Science, Giraffes, and the History behind the Chamber Award
Originally from Camden, South Carolina, Sue West came to Hilton Head Island as a bride in the early 80's. A graduate of Clemson University, her background was in marine biology. She joined the staff of the May River Academy (which later merged with Sea Pines Academy to become the present-day Hilton Head Preparatory School) as a science teacher. In her quiet, yet engaging manner, Sue quickly endeared herself to students and colleagues alike. "Sue was the type of individual who made everyone want to be a better person," explained Kathryn Ramseur-Riley, one of Sue's close friends and colleagues.
"Sue had a great sense of humor and believed that knowledge is power," added Shelton West-Bosley, her sister-in-law. "She was very curious and very strong." The strength was necessary when, at age 28, Sue was diagnosed with cancer and given just one year to live. Happily, she beat those odds, teaching right up until she passed away in 1995 at the age of 42. Sue's sense of humor manifested itself in a whimsical love for the elegant, long- necked giraffe. "Sue loved giraffes," smiled Peg Hamilton, another colleague and friend. "Giraffes don't have to say anything to make an impact, and you don't mistake them for anything else," mused Hamilton. "The same was true of Sue."
It was at her jam-packed, memorial service that the idea for the Chamber Award, named in her honor, was born. "Literally hundreds of Sue's current and former students and colleagues came to pay tribute to her," remembers Paula Harper-Bethea, past president of the Hilton Head Island Chamber of Commerce. "Clearly Sue was an absolutely phenomenal teacher, and the Chamber's education committee realized that we had the opportunity to underpin and honor something of great value to our community."
Anne Eddy: Blazing a Path in her own Shoes
Not surprisingly, Sue West and her long-ago pupil Anne Eddy share many of the same traits. In fact, in addition to both being alumni of Clemson, and their mastery of superlative, hands-on teaching skills, both women shared a love of . great shoes! "Yes! I love shoes," confessed Eddy. "I didn't know that about Mrs. West."
Eddy has successfully filled some pretty big shoes in being honored as the Sue West Educator of the Year. Anne grew up on Hilton Head Island and, after teaching and serving as a middle school principal in Summerville, S.C., returned to the island to teach 5th grade at Hilton Head Christian Academy. Anne says that the Christian aspect of the school appealed to her because she welcomed the opportunity to participate in helping students in their walk with the Lord. She was later named the Lower School principal but after three years, decided to return to her first love, the middle school classroom.
Just like Mrs. West before her, Anne is held in high regard by colleagues, students and parents. "Anne Eddy combines enthusiasm for teaching with a passion to see her students fall in love with Math," explained Mike Lindsey, Headmaster at Hilton Head Christian Academy. One of Eddy's students says, "Mrs. Eddy is one of the smartest people I know. She seriously knows her math, and when it comes to math, she does NOT play around!" A parent writes, "One of the things I value most about Anne is her uncanny ability to see the whole child, respect and honor the whole child, and teach that child not just math, but life lessons as well." It's a responsibility that Anne values. "In the early years of my career, the term 'making a difference' was just a catch phrase that sounded good and was expected to be said," she explained "After sixteen years of teaching, I value that opportunity, and guard it carefully, because students learn so much from teachers."
And so, the legacy continues.