South Callaway math teacher up for national award

Shelly Sconce reflects on teaching career, supporting students

Shelly Sconce, math teacher at South Callaway High School, plays a vocabulary game with her geometry class on Wednesday. Sconce is nominated for a national teaching award, the LifeChanger Award, which recognizes educators that support students academically and emotionally. The grand prize winner receives a $10,000 cash prize. The winner will be announced in April.

Shelly Sconce, math teacher at South Callaway High School, plays a vocabulary game with her geometry class on Wednesday. Sconce is nominated for a national teaching award, the LifeChanger Award, which recognizes educators that support students academically and emotionally. The grand prize winner receives a $10,000 cash prize. The winner will be announced in April. Photo by Brittany Ruess.

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Shelly Sconce, math teacher at South Callaway High School, plays a vocabulary game with her geometry class on Wednesday. Sconce is nominated for a national teaching award, the LifeChanger Award, which recognizes educators that support students academically and emotionally. The winner will be announced in April.

Shelly Sconce’s second year of teaching at South Callaway High School is when she experienced a defining moment in her teaching career. She reached a low point in her personal life when a student approached her and gave her a hug during calculus class.

“I remember (the student) coming up and putting arms around me and saying, ‘I just want to let you know I love you,’” Sconce said.

Sconce said in her first years of teaching she was not as “warm and fuzzy” as she is now, so for the student to say, “I love you,” was a moment that helped Sconce bridge a gap between the emotional and academic sides to being a teacher. It also gave her a sense of purpose.

“Then you realize you are in the exact place God wants you to be because you have just touched the lives of so many of these kids without even knowing it,” Sconce said. “Maybe it was just because you brought cookies or because you said, ‘Hello’ in the parking lot or asked if their having a nice day because their day maybe has been crap before that and that’s all they needed. That was probably my defining moment where I felt like this is where I’m supposed to be and so no matter how bad it gets or feels like it’s getting it’s going to be worth it.”

Sconce has taught at SCHS for eight years, teaching algebra, geometry and calculus, and was recently nominated for a national teaching award — LifeChanger of the Year. The award is sponsored by the National Life Group, a financial services company.

Alex Dzurick, South Callaway High School 2008 graduate, nominated Sconce for the award after she helped his family cope with the loss of Dzurick’s mother — Lola Dzurick, who passed away in June from breast cancer. Lola Dzurick was employee at SCHS for 37 years — 27 as a world history teacher and 10 as the director of curriculum, among other after school responsibilities.

In October, Sconce organized SCHS’s Pink Out football game. The game raised awareness about breast cancer, but donations raised went to the initiative for a new Fulton Animal Shelter, a topic that was close to Lola Dzurick’s heart. Alex Dzurick said he was honored that Sconce helped remember his mother in a way that was special and specific to her.

“Shelly is just one of those people that is a helper,” Alex Dzurick said. “If you’re in need and you have a problem, she’s not going to judge.”

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