The Effingham County Board of Education recognized a South Effingham High School student and master teachers at its meeting last Thursday.
Superintendent Randy Shearouse cited Lauren Thompson, a ninth grade student at South Effingham High School.
“Most of us are familiar with 4-H and what those H’s stand for: head, heart, hands and health,” Shearouse said. “These are all important parts of the 4-H pledge, but if Lauren Thompson could add another ‘H’ to her pledge, it would be horses.”
Thompson earned first place in the hunt seat division last year at the state 4-H show in Perry. Since Effingham County does not offer a 4-H horse program, Thompson competes with a group from Bulloch County. She and her horse Timbuktoo train with Eleanor Ellis of Evermore Farm in Brooklet.
In May, Thompson took first place at the International Equestrian Association’s National Championships in Cleveland, competing against 24 girls her age from across the country.
Shearouse said when Thompson’s friends began asking about what she does she decided to begin a “horse study group” that meets monthly. Up to 26 Effingham County children have attended the meetings, including children with disabilities who participate in the Faith Equestrian program.
Thompson teaches the group horse safety rules and riding techniques, among other things. She is hopeful that the Effingham County 4-H Association will offer a horse program for other children who share her passion for horses and equestrian events, Shearouse said.
There are essentially two divisions in riding, Thompson said, Western and hunt seat.
“Western is basically cowboy kind of version,” she said. “Hunt seat is more jumping and form and elegance.”
The board also honored its middle school master teachers. The state recognizes its best teachers every year, and they receive the master teacher designation on their certificates.
Beverly Harvey of Ebenezer Middle School, Katie Bryant of South Effingham Middle School, and Kelly Rahn and Glenn Smith of Effingham County Middle School were recognized for earning master teacher designation.
“I was looking at a map of Georgia, and they had every county and how many master teachers they have per county,” Shearouse said. “I was pleasantly surprised to see how many Effingham County has compared to the rest of the state.”
Shearouse said in order to become a master teacher, an educator must work in the classroom for a minimum of three years on a clear renewable certificate. They also must provide documentation on classroom instruction on student achievement.
“Educators help build the master teacher program, and they continue to refine it making sure that unlike some teacher recognition programs it’s not a popularity contest, nor is it based on seat time in the classroom,” Shearouse said. “You become a master teacher based on the clear criteria of student achievement. Master teachers help build better schools by assisting new teachers and coaching peers.”