COLUMBIA, S.C. — In a surprise classroom visit, Richland School District Two Superintendent Dr. Baron R. Davis announced the 2020-2021 District Teacher of the Year (DTOY). Dr. Davis visited the classroom of Tryphena Cuffy virtually to make the announcement. Cuffy, asixth grade teacher at Muller Road Middle School, was one of five finalists competing for the DTOY award. She teaches science in the Leadership Academy at Muller Road.
“I am thankful for Ms. Cuffy answering the call to teach. While she is the daughter of two educators, she never believed teaching would be her passion. I am grateful for her and all of our teachers who are answering the call, discovering their passion and playing vital roles is helping our students do the same,” Dr. Davis said.
Cuffy believed teaching was the last thing she wanted to do until she started tutoring while in graduate school. She took her training in scientific research into the Program of Alternative Certification for Educators also known as PACE. Cuffy is now entering her seventh year of teaching. Her greatest joy is getting to know her students, what she often calls her “village.”
“In every lesson, project, or unit, I strive to ensure that my students have the opportunity to make an impact, to try something new, to perfect what they already know, and to exceed all our expectations. This drives my passion and makes every day I spend with my students so meaningful,” said Cuffy. “I’m honored to receive this award and to have the opportunity to spend this school year representing the distinctively, premier group of teachers in our district.”
The other finalists for the award were Keely Hitchings, Ridge View High; Samantha Rainwater, Richland Northeast High; Wautausha Taylor, Longleaf Middle, and Tonya Williams, Forest Lake Elementary.
Cuffy holds a Bachelor of Science in General Biology with a focus on Molecular Biology from the University of the Virgin Islands; a Master of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Genetics from the University of Iowa; and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Phoenix. She is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Historically Black Colleges and Universities-Undergraduate Program Award and National Institutes of Health MARC (Minority Access to Research Careers) Scholar.