There is a surprising common theme this year in the Columbia County school system's awards for its top teacher and media specialist: It's all in the family.
Teacher of the Year Danielle Callan is the daughter of a former teacher of the year, and the sister of another Columbia County teacher. Media Specialist of the Year Anna Olliff is the daughter-in-law of a former Richmond County educator.
It's not unusual in any profession to follow in your parents' footsteps. But Columbia County shows how beneficial it can be to provide a school system that attracts the next generation of stellar educators.
Callan's story, especially, looks like it came out of a Hollywood script. A Greenbrier High School graduate, Callan is a former Miss Augusta who entered education just four years ago as a music teacher. Her friends and colleagues are effusive in their praise for her talents and dedication.
"You can just tell she's supposed to be here and she's doing what she was born to do," says Courtney Owen, a fellow teacher and friend of Callan - adding that this year's winner is one of the best teachers she's ever seen.
Olliff recognizes the challenges in this area of being a school librarian - particularly the aversion to delayed gratification from children who, as she puts it, "just want to Google everything."
Fortunately, there is still a lot of reading going on from those books in Olliff's Evans Middle School library. It's a tough fight, but literacy is winning; just look, for example, at the over-the-top numbers of users for the Columbia County library.
"I think reading is still popular," Olliff tells reporter Betsy Gilliland. "I think there are a lot of great authors out there for young adults."
Doing a good job of teaching our children is still pretty popular, too - and Olliff and Callan are well-deserving of the accolades they are receiving for not only setting a great example for their families, but for helping improve education for all Columbia County families.
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