The newest winner of the Thayer Award, presented on behalf of the family of Dr. Henry K. Thayer to the Lander University student graduating with the highest average, is Sara Summerfield, of Florence.
An early childhood education major, Summerfield graduated with a perfect 4.0 average following the spring 2022 semester. She was honored during a Monday, May 23 ceremony held in the College of Education lobby.
An Honors College student, she completed more than 140 credit hours as an undergraduate, earning not only her early childhood teaching certificate, but also her Montessori credentials.
“That is remarkable,” said Dr. Sarah Hunt-Barron, dean of the College of Education. “To do that with a 4.0 is really, really impressive.”
Calling Summerfield “an incredibly outstanding and special student,” Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Dr. Scott Jones presented her with a plaque and check for $500 in recognition of her achievement.
Summerfield will begin her career as the lead teacher in a Montessori classroom at H.E. Corley Elementary, in Irmo.
She was in a Montessori program herself “for my entire elementary school experience,” she said.
She prefers Montessori, she said, because children “learn at their own pace, according to their own interests. It’s completely self-paced and self-guided, and just an individualized experience for each child.”
It was Lander’s Montessori program that first brought her to Greenwood.
“It’s the only place even relatively close that offered a curriculum like this,” she said.
She was asked what she likes about working with younger students.“To see a child’s face light up with understanding as they’re trying to learn a new concept, or maybe learning how to read or write or do a math problem for the first time, it’s just so special,” she said.