The USC Aiken Teaching Fellows were honored to host Mr. Jeff Maxey, South Carolina Teacher of the Year, this past weekend. Diversity was the theme of Mr. Maxey’s presentation. He spoke about the importance of “learning” one’s students and how that understanding can lead to significant and sustained gains both inside and outside of the classroom. He shared a handful of rich and, at times, harrowing stories of living in Africa for a decade – learning a new language, learning to do much with very little, and, most importantly, learning that each student, no matter their background, matters. Funny, accessible, and direct, it is no wonder that Mr. Maxey is the South Carolina Teacher of the Year. We were truly humbled and honored to have him share time out of his busy schedule to both inspire and challenge us to look beyond differences and focus on the similarities that bind student to teacher.