Deion Jamison ’17

Words of advice for all future educators: “Be like Mrs. Clark and Ms. Keller.”

Clark was Deion Jamison’s fourth grade teacher. Seeing his academic giftedness, she gave him a small chalkboard for Christmas, which he promptly used to “play school” day after day.

Keller was Jamison’s 10th grade English teacher. Strict but not mean, she had high standards for her students. She would not allow anyone to fail through her rigorous instruction.

“When I became a teacher, I wanted to be a mix of both of them,” Jamison says. “I wanted to inspire students to follow their dreams. And I also wanted to hold very high academic expectations for my students.”

Only five years into his teaching career, Jamison’s dual commitment to inspiration and expectation has led him to a significant milestone: selection as the 2023 South Carolina Teacher of the Year.

The Vance, South Carolina, native is an English teacher at Legacy Early College, a public charter school for K4-12 students in Greenville’s West End. After graduating from Clemson in 2017 with a sociology degree and education minor, he entered the Teach for America program, serving two years as an English teacher in Orangeburg, South Carolina, before moving to the Greenville position. He also holds a Master of Science in education from Johns Hopkins University.

Jamison entered Clemson as a computer science major but soon switched to sociology. Classes such as The Community with Kenneth Robinson and Sociology of Education with Andrew Mannheimer revealed the intersection of sociology and education — and showed him a clear career path.

“I learned about the disparities related to race, class and health and discovered that one thing that can help eliminate those disparities is education,” Jamison explains. “I fused those two things and created, in my mind, this independent study that viewed education from a sociological lens.”

Every day, Jamison enters the classroom with an understanding that students — like everyone — possess a wealth of knowledge and experiences to be leveraged as strengths. He recognizes that giving students information is not enough; they need a partner to learn with them. And he emphasizes the importance of advocating for others, building soft skills and addressing global problems.

As South Carolina Teacher of the Year, Jamison will take a yearlong sabbatical to participate in workshops, mentoring opportunities, speaking engagements and policy work. He will also lead the S.C. Teacher Forum Conference for the state’s district teachers of the year.

“It’s the greatest honor and also the greatest responsibility of my life, as I’ll be serving South Carolina’s 55,000 teachers and their students,” Jamison says.

“I’m excited to bring the Teacher of the Year honor home to Clemson!” 

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