SC Stem Educator of the Year 2022

This Award Is Made Possible By: 


South Carolina faces two converging challenges for the future of its students and workforce: first, a critical shortage of public school educators, particularly in STEM areas; and second, the changing nature of jobs requiring an advanced understanding of STEM content areas and the skills required to tackle complexproblems. The state will need to significantly increase its number of STEM educators in order to meet the demands of an evolving economy. 

The South Carolina Council on Competitiveness through its SCTech initiative, and in partnership with S²TEM Centers and the Citadel STEM Center are pleased to announce the “2022 SC STEM Educator of the Year.” This year’s award is also sponsored by the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness, Bojangles, and Comporium Communications. 

This award is for teachers who are making a significant difference in the lives of students across the state by providing excellent curriculum, encouraging lifelong learning and inspiring a passion for STEM beyond the classroom and into the future. 

The 2022 STEM Educator of the Year is Kirstin Bullington

Kirstin Bullington has taught science and engineering for the past nineteen years. Prior to teaching, she was a health specialist volunteer in the Peace Corps, Togo, where she discovered her passion for education. Kirstin is an alumna of Teachers for Global Classrooms (Senegal), the Transatlantic Outreach Program (Germany), and the Japan-US Teacher Exchange for Education for Sustainable Development. Participation in each of these programs led her to discover that students show greater aptitude and interest in engineering when presented from a relevant global context. 

 Kirstin is currently the Next Energy Engineering Instructor at the Richland Two Institute of Innovation (R2i2) in Columbia, SC, where her students design and optimize alternative energy solutions for local and global challenges. Currently, her Next Energy students are collaborating with three communities in Senegal and South Africa to optimize solar energy, and were recognized in 2021 by Special Climate Envoy John Kerry for their efforts.  Kirstin is the recipient of the South Carolina Outstanding Biology Teacher Award (2013), holds National Board Certification, and was recently named the 2022 South Carolina STEM Educator of the Year.

The 2022 SC STEM Educator of the Year Finalists

  • Kirstin Bullington – Next Energy Engineering Instructor | Richland Two Institute of Innovation (R2i2)
    • STEM Platform: “Integrating STEM education and industry to increase career opportunities for all”
  • Annie Johnson – Clean Energy Technology, Honors Marine Science, & AP Environmental Science| Academy for the Arts, Science, & Technology
    • STEM Platform: “Build your ecosySTEM”
  • Dr. Marsha Neal – 6th-grade Math and Science teacher | Deer Park Middle School (Charleston County School District)
    • STEM Platform: “The effectiveness of STEM initiatives on student academic success”
  • Dr. Nicole Yemothy – PLTW Gateway Teacher | R. H. Gettys Middle School, Pickens School District, Easley SC
    • STEM Platform: “STEM Activities and learning can happen anywhere”
  • Ashley Blackwelder – STEAM Coordinator | Fairforest Elementary School
    • STEM Platform: “Taking the Mystery out of Stem”

How The Process Works

Anyone, including oneself, can nominate a deserving teacher. However, the nominator must secure the permission of the nominee to enter his/her/their name for consideration. Once, nominated, the teacher is sent Phase 2 of the application process and must answer all questions. The South Carolina STEM Teacher of the Year Committee then reviews all of the nomination applications and selects five finalists who will interview with our selection panel. Once the interview process is complete, a winner is selected.


  • Must be a full-time, active, certified, public K-12 classroom STEM teacher (science, technology, engineering or mathematics)
  • Spend the majority of the school day involved in direct instruction to students
  • Be skilled in implementing effective teaching strategies
  • Be able to explain personal teaching philosophy
  • Be able to inspire students in STEM-related topics
  • Show involvement and leadership in student-related extra-curricular activities
  • Be respected by students, parents, and co-workers

What Are We Looking For In The STEM Educator of the Year? 

  • Innovative – Unique ways to educate students to develop a curiosity in the STEM fields.
  • Outstanding – A true passion for STEM education and the minds you are molding
  • Worldly – Inspires students to see that STEM is all around us
  • Academic – Engage students in the classroom, preparing them for education and careers outside the classroom