Early College High School geometry teacher Lorelai Rautsaw hates surprises.
She managed to have just a few seconds of notice before they called her name as the winner of the school’s Teacher of the Year.
“Getting called out stresses me out,” Rautsaw said with a smile, as she recalled the moment she realized what was happening.
It was lunchtime, and she was eating as usual when other teachers who normally aren’t there during that time started coming into the cafeteria.
“One of the other teachers walks over and says, ‘What are all these people here for? I bet they’re going to announce the Teacher of the Year.’,” she said.
She said she quickly started taking count of who was in there, and who had won before.
“I figured out who all was in the room – I was breaking it down!” she said. “I knew about 30 seconds before they made the announcement. I was a bit shocked. It is a real honor.”
Originally from southwest Ohio, Rautsaw attended Ohio Northern University and has been with ECHS since 2008.
“I’ve not taught anywhere else,” she said.
Her journey to Horry County was a quick one, she said, as she graduated on a Sunday, drove here on Monday, interviewed on Tuesday, drove back to Ohio Wednesday, and got the job offer that same week on Friday.
Originally a double major in both math education and music education, she ended up dropping the music major because it would have meant spending more to stay longer at the university.
But, she was able to obtain a Bachelor of Arts in Math since she had so many arts credits – she was an active participant in Marching Band, Pep Band, Jazz Band, Wind Ensemble, and also took private trumpet lessons.
She said it’s ironic she teaches geometry now even though she herself struggled with it in high school – her struggles helped her in figuring out the best way to teach.
She has changed a lot about how she runs her classroom in the last few years, and she can see the difference in the students.
“I like math, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not here because that’s my passion. It’s the kids,” Rautsaw said. “We get stuff accomplished but I like to make it enjoyable to where they don’t dread coming to my class.”
She referred to a comment from a college professor, where they told her that the biggest compliment a teacher could have is for a student to be surprised that it was time for class to be over.
“I get that a lot of days – ‘I love having your class – it just flies by!’ Rautsaw said.
She does a lot of partner activities with her class, and something called demonstration examples. While the class is working, she pulls students back to her desk in pairs to work on programs with her. If they demonstrate to her that they know the lesson, when they go home to do their homework it should be easier for them, she said.
Rautsaw also tries to have open communication with the students, and has multiple ways they can contact her, including Snapchat.
“Obviously it is 100 percent professional,” Rautsaw said. “But they can take a picture of a homework assignment they need help on. It’s just another way they can contact me … we realize that email is not how these kids communicate now.”
She also heads up the Yearbook Committee after school, and recently took up a hobby learning computer programming and coding.
When she isn’t helping her students with geometry, she is living on a 10.5 acre farm in the Aynor area.
“My boyfriend and I have eight horses between us. Seven dogs … ten chickens, a few guinea fowl,” she said.
Rautsaw said she recently wrote the program for her new iPad sign-in for the students.
“It sounds basic but in computer code it’s not,” she joked. “I’d love to really get into it but I just haven’t had time.”