Plant Spartanburg
South Carolina's 2024 Teacher of the Year standing outside the governor's mansion in front of a BMW X5, flanked by BMW and Educational representatives.
South Carolina’s 2024 Education Ambassador Will Drive New BMW X5.
  • Renee Atkinson Named 2024 South Carolina Teacher of the Year. 

Spartanburg, S.C.  State Superintendent of Education Ellen Weaver announced on Wednesday afternoon that Renee Atkinson, an AP English teacher at Aynor High School from Horry County Schools, has been named 2024 South Carolina Teacher of the Year. For the first time in more than a decade, the event was held on the grounds of the Governor’s Mansion in Columbia, SC.  

As part of the celebration, BMW Manufacturing, the program’s premier sponsor for 26 years, handed Atkinson the keys to a 2024 BMW X5 sDrive40i. The Skyscraper Gray Metallic X5 has Black Sensafin Upholstery with 20-inch V-spoke wheels. It includes the BMW Curved Display with configurable 12.3-inch instrument cluster and 14.9-inch central information display. Atkinson will drive the X5 during her year-long sabbatical from the classroom as South Carolina’s public education ambassador.  

“I am only one of over 50,000 teachers who work tirelessly to provide quality education to the students in our state,” Atkinson said. “Being a teacher means giving fully of yourself and your talents to help others achieve their greatest potential. It’s building relationships, providing service to others, and loving others enough to help them reach goals that they never thought possible. How blessed am I to be one of you!” 

“Everyone remembers a teacher, by name, who many years ago said something or did something for us that was inspirational,” said Max Metcalf, manager of Government and Community Relations at BMW Manufacturing. “Teachers shape the future of millions of students every day and set them up for success as responsible citizens. We at BMW are grateful to all South Carolina teachers and their commitment in providing a stimulating environment for our children’s education.”

Along with the use of a BMW X5 sDrive40i for one year, Atkinson receives a $25,000 cash award, a set of Michelin tires, a Bojangles $2,000 award, an exclusive Jostens Teacher of the Year ring, and complimentary admission to participate in Leadership South Carolina. She will officially serve as the state spokesperson for over 50,000 educators.

Atkinson revealed that initially she did not want to be a teacher, but everyone encouraged her to pursue that career. Before graduating Clemson, she got a teaching certificate at the insistence of her father. 

“Since then, I’ve never looked back,” she said. “It’s been my journey and my passion and where God planned for me to be with my life.” 

Since 1992, the BMW Group has invested nearly $12.4 billion in its South Carolina operations. BMW Manufacturing is the largest BMW Group plant in the world, producing more than 1,500 vehicles each day. The plant is an important part of BMW’s global production network and plays a critical role in meeting the high demand for BMW Sports Activity Vehicles and Coupes in the U.S. and around the world. Nearly 60 percent of its vehicles are shipped to about 120 global markets, making BMW the largest automotive exporter by value in the United States for nine consecutive years. In 2022, more than 60 percent of BMW vehicles sold in the U.S. came from Plant Spartanburg.  The model portfolio includes six top-selling BMW X models, five Motorsport X models, and three plug-in hybrid electric vehicle X models. The factory has an annual production capacity of up to 450,000 vehicles and employs more than 11,000 people.  

Please Note:

To the extent that historical press releases reference BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC as the manufacturer of certain X model vehicles, the referenced vehicles are manufactured in South Carolina with a combination of U.S. origin and imported parts and components.