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Lander Alumnus Blake Bishop Is State Honor Roll Teacher

Natalie and Blake Bishop
Lander University alumnus Blake Bishop ‘24, right, is a teacher at Ware Shoals High School and one of this years’ finalists for South Carolina Teacher of the Year. He graduated with his Master of Education in Learning and Technology on May 1 alongside his wife, Natalie ‘24, left.  Photo by Lindsey Hodges

Ware Shoals High School teacher and Lander University graduate Blake Bishop ’24 was one of five finalists for this year’s South Carolina Teacher of the Year - an honor that was five generations in the making.

Bishop, who was last year’s Teacher of the Year for Greenwood School District 51, was surprised in March by a visit from the state superintendent of education to announce he was a finalist for the top award. In April, he traveled to Columbia, where fellow finalist Braden Wilson was named South Carolina Teacher of the Year.

While Bishop was in Columbia, students back in Ware Shoals were watching the ceremony and cheering him on.

“Hearts for Bishop,” one student wrote in the comments of the livestream.

“It was wonderful to feel so supported by students and staff from Ware Shoals,” Bishop said.

“It’s a small district; we have never had anyone even be a finalist before.”

Bishop said the most valuable thing from the experience of being an Honor Roll Teacher has been the people he has met, who have been supportive and encouraging.

“It really brought me in contact with so many wonderful people from all across the state that I wouldn’t have been able to meet otherwise,” he said.

Bishop, who is a fifth-generation teacher, said teaching is where he sees himself making the greatest difference for the greatest number of people.

“That’s why people teach,” he said. “People teach to help improve everything we can. It’s not just about grades — it’s about who students are, what they’re able to accomplish and what they’re able to bring to their community.”

Bishop teaches world history, U.S. government, and economics and personal finance. He is also the basic life support instructor for the district, coordinating basic life support instruction with healthcare professionals and teaching first aid, CPR and other programs like STOP THE BLEED® to staff and students throughout the district.

Bishop teaches history because history encompasses everything, he said. It covers math, science and literature, and he’s able to teach about all of those things.

“I just feel like I have the best of everything wrapped up together where I get to talk about the way that these different fields have changed and affected people’s lives and how they continue to affect our lives today,” he said.

Bishop graduated from Lander on May 1 with his Master of Education in Learning and Technology with a focus in instructional technology. He had the opportunity to be in a cohort of local teachers pursuing master’s degrees, but also feels it’s important to continue expanding his knowledge and keep up to date with best practices.

“It was a great degree to keep moving forward with,” he said.

One of the immediate things he has been able to put into practice that he has learned from the program is expanded accessibility for his students – how things are formatted and presented to students can make a huge difference for students with accessibility needs, he said.

“It has encouraged me to continue studying, modifying and improving how I teach so that it can best serve all of my students,” he said.

Bishop’s graduation was made all the more special because his wife, Natalie Bishop — also a teacher in District 51 — graduated with her master’s alongside him. They live in Greenwood and have an 11-month-old son.