School district honors top teacher and support employee of the year

COUNTY — Just days before the new school year kicked off this week, the School District of Pickens County named its 2021-22 Teacher of the Year and Support Employee of the Year at a banquet on Friday.

At the event, which recognized support employees and teachers of the year for each of the district’s 23 schools, the Pickens County Career and Technology Center and the district’s alternative education program, Liberty High School teacher Zachary Arms and Central Services administrative assistant Jennifer Dailey took top countywide honors.


An innovative member of the Liberty High teaching staff, Arms has taught multiple subjects, including AP psychology, government, economics, psychology and law education. His creative thinking and passion is evident in the name of a course he recently created — “Psychology of Superheroes,” where students use psychological concepts to analyze popular heroes and villains in comic books. In addition to this, Arms also serves as the school’s assistant band director. Before joining the Liberty faculty, Arms taught at Midland Valley High School in Aiken County. He is a 2017 graduate of Clemson University, where he completed a double major to earn his Bachelor of Arts in secondary education and history.

In May 2021, South Carolina Treasurer Curtis Loftis recognized Arms as the South Carolina Financial Literacy Master Teacher Program’s Educator of the Month.

“Personal finance is a crucial topic to understand, especially in this age of digital information,” Arms said. “Without proper knowledge and guidance, individuals can be led astray into poor financial decisions that can negatively impact their lives. I truly believe that there’s a strong correlation between the large amounts of consumer debt our citizens are accruing and the rate of depression in our nation. Knowledge of personal finance can save a person’s life.”

Liberty principal Josh Oxendine called Arms “one of the hardest working and most selfless teachers I have worked with in my career.”

“His positive attitude is contagious, and he has a great impact on our faculty, staff, students and community,” Oxendine added.

Dana Whelchel, a parent of two of Arms’ students, explained his impact in a recommendation letter for the award.

“I am very thankful to Mr. Arms and his support and leadership toward my children during their time at Liberty High,” Whelchel said. “He is full of school spirit and is a wonderful representative for the school.”

Arms was one of four finalists for the award, along with West End Elementary’s Leslie Flowers, Pickens High’s Lisa Furr and Liberty Primary’s Heather Reeves.

Each of the district’s 23 school-level teachers of the year will receive a $100 bonus this year, along with an additional $100 classroom supply voucher.

The finalists for SDPC Teacher of the Year each receive a $750 bonus, and Arms will receive a $1,500 bonus from the school district for the honor.



Dailey worked at McKissick Elementary as school secretary and bookeeper until making a move to Central Services. She assists in multiple areas, including massive responsibility of documenting the professional development for all certified staff in SDPC. She recently served on the implementation team for new software that help track all professional development districtwide.

“Her optimistic, friendly demeanor always provides much-needed encouragement for others.,” SDPC assistant superintendent for instructional services Sharon Huff said.

“When you think of the word sunshine, what comes to your mind? Warmth? Cheerfulness? Welcoming? Light? Have you ever met someone that was Sunshine in human form?” East End Elementary assistant principal Anita Richardson said. “That is exactly what Jennifer is and does. She makes it a goal to be happy and will do what she needs to, even if it isn’t in her job description, to make others happy as well. Everyone that comes in contact with Jennifer will tell you, her happy personality makes their day a little better.”

Another letter of recommendation for the award said Dailey “infuses positivity, joyfulness and enthusiasm for both work and life. Mrs. Dailey draws people to her light and makes others around her want to shine as well.”

Dailey was one of four finalists for the award, along with Liberty Elementary’s Sunshine Dennis, Liberty High’s Carrie Gregory and Daniel High’s Jill Roy.

Each of the district’s 31 site-level support employees of the year will receive a $100 bonus this year, while finalists for the district award each receive a $750 bonus, and Dailey will receive a $1,500 bonus.