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Virtus Academy

John Huggins Named Teacher of the Year Finalist for the Charter Institute at Erskine 

When Virtus Academy 5th Grade ELA teacher John Huggins was selected by his peers to represent the school as the 2024-25 Teacher of the Year, he couldn’t imagine a better feeling. That is until the Charter Institute at Erskine (CIE) notified him that he was one of five finalists for one of the Institute’s highest honors, the Nathan Yon Institute Teacher of the Year.

“I never expected anything like this to happen,” Huggins said. “I was incredibly honored and humbled to be nominated by my peers for Teacher of the Year at Virtus Academy, and with this new distinction, I could apply at the district level and was fortunate to make it into the top five out of 60 applicants.”

Huggins will join educators, students, and families across South Carolina at CIE’s 2024 Awards Banquet on May 16 in Columbia to learn if he received the top prize.

As part of the application process, Huggins was interviewed by a panel of CIE leaders and videotaped answering questions about his teaching philosophies, experience, and goals. If he’s named the Nathan Yon Institute Teacher of the Year, he’ll have several new responsibilities, like representing the district at events and conferences, advocating for charter schools, and attending board meetings.

“It’s exciting to think about having an opportunity to be a voice for teachers and students,” he said. “Virtus is the only charter school in Florence County, and there is still some confusion about the difference between charter and public schools. Although I typically prefer to work behind the scenes, I know I can make a difference.”

The Charter Institute at Erskine is one of two higher-education charter school authorizers in South Carolina. Serving 28 schools and more than 26,000 students across the state, CIE is committed to innovative, creative, high-quality education methods. The district’s Nathan Yon Institute Teacher of the Year Award is named for the visionary behind the South Carolina Science Academy, who died in a tragic accident in 2013.

“John Huggins is one of those teachers who makes a difference in the classroom daily,” said Virtus Academy Managing Consultant Dr. Brian Carpenter. “We know his value to our school and are hopeful that the entire district will get the chance to benefit from his outstanding teaching abilities, helpful nature, and commitment to excellence.”

John Huggins
John Huggins