Ocean Bay Elementary School’s teacher of the year came to the Grand Strand for cheerleading competitions when she was a teenager in New York.
Gabrielle Mayo explains it this way: “I loved the beach and the beach atmosphere, and in high school, cheering drew me to Myrtle Beach.”
She graduated from Coastal Carolina, interned at OBES, had a long-term subbing job there, and has been teaching first grade there for her entire six-year career.
“I owe my job to Coastal,” she says, adding, “Coastal provided me the opportunity to go into schools in this district as much as we did during college, and I was blessed and lucky enough to be here.”
Watching her father, a longtime tech and business teacher, strongly influenced her decision to be an educator.
“His involvement with his students showed me that there was more to teaching than just the academic part,” she says.
From seventh through 12th grades, she volunteered in her former kindergarten teacher’s classroom, and that cemented her decision to be an educator.
“I saw things, not from the students’ perspective, but from the perspective of being a role model and connecting to the students over the years. I saw that I could be their teacher, but I could also be a role model as well.”
Today, she says she is teaching them academic skills, but also says, “I’m teaching them life skills as well, and instilling character traits in them and holding them accountable.”
Mayo is single and says Doug Carroll, who works for Ferguson HVAC, is her significant other.
She lives in Carolina Forest, and the couple enjoys kayaking and doing things outdoors.
With her entire family still in New York, Mayo says, “My friends are my family and my co-workers are my family.”
Mayo is the oldest of three children with a brother who teaches physical education in Maryland, and another who’s an athletic trainer in New York.
Her mother was a stay-at-home Mom until Mayo started school, and says, “She was always there as my go-to person.”
For her first graders, “the social and emotional learning is huge.
“Learning to read and to count is important.
“But problem-solving, being kind, being a friend, helping others…all those things are embedded into the day.
“First graders,” she says, “just want to know they’re loved.”