Meet Candace Sewell Hannah

My name is Candace Sewell Hannah. I am a 23-year veteran in the field of education. I am a proud product of Richland School District One, having graduated from W.J. Keenan High School, Class of 1994. I received my BA in Education from Benedict College (2000), Master of Education in Divergent Learning from Columbia College (2004), and an Educational Specialist Degree in Educational Administration and Supervision from Cambridge College of Massachusetts (2006). I am currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Educational Administration from SC State University. I am the proud mother of one 14-year-old son Kyzer Hannah, who is a freshman in high school

My Why: Candace Sewell Hannah

Candace explains why she does what she does

Q&A with Candace Sewell Hannah

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I enjoy the interactions and conversations that I have daily with my students. It is very important that young students engage in meaningful conversations to increase their vocabulary. I also enjoy the growth that I am able to witness from the beginning of the school year to the end. As an Early Childhood teacher, it’s like watching a caterpillar grow and change into a beautiful butterfly!

You come from a distinguished family of educators. As a family, you, your mother, father, brother, and sister have all been recognized as Teachers of the Year. To say that you are a good teacher would be an understatement. My question is, in your professional opinion what are the traits and characteristics of a good teacher?

In my opinion, a good teacher embodies the following characteristics: Compassion, Patience, Love for children, Empathy, Respect for Others, Committed, Positive, Cultivating a sense of belonging and recognizing that all children are capable of learning, even if they learn differently.

How has the public school system in our state changed since you were a student? What is one thing that has improved and what is one thing that has worsened?

Technology is something I would say has changed. When I was in school, I do remember computers in the Computer Lab and a Film Projector with a  screen being brought out on special occasions. Those were the closest things to modern technology we had. Fast forward 35 years…Children today are fortunate to have Smartboards, Tablets, and access to their own personal laptops to use at school and at home. We are currently living in a world based on the use of technology.

What has worsened is the autonomy that teachers once had. I remember when my parents were still teaching, they were never bombarded with the workload and responsibilities we as teachers have now. Also, teachers do not have adequate time to teach the required curriculum due to all of the district and state testing our students have to do. Honestly, most of the time we are required to test before the content is fully taught and mastered.

Because you have been both an administrator and a teacher, you have a unique perspective. In your opinion, what can our state do to increase teacher retention and recruitment?

The State of South Carolina can increase teacher retention and recruitment by recognizing teaching as a noble profession and treat it as such. No other profession would exist without teachers and teachers should be compensated for the amount of work we do and the time we put in. Teaching does not stop with the ringing of the bell. Many teachers spend countless hours at home planning lessons and activities that will help students be successful. Also, there are many teachers throughout the state who are working close to twelve to fourteen-hour shifts. This is especially true if they are working in one of our after-school programs. I will say it over and over again that teachers should not have to work so hard and so long just to try to make ends meet.

What do you think of ABC’s sitcom Abbott Elementary? Would you say that it accurately reflects the struggles of public school systems nationwide?

I personally enjoy the sitcom Abbott Elementary. If nothing else, it provides relatable humor. The show does sometimes touch on realistic issues that occur in schools. However, people must remember that it is a fictitious show for entertainment.

Recently, you decided to return to school to further your education. Can you tell me about your future plans in the field of education?

Yes, I recently enrolled in a Doctorate program and I am very excited about that. Upon completion of my degree, I would like to maybe teach a few years on the collegiate level and eventually open an academy for African American boys grades K-8.