LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Victoria Merritt

Position: Social Studies Teacher/ Varsity Swim Coach
School: Ashley Ridge High School
School District: Dorchester School District Two
City, State: Summerville , SC

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Music that Describes Victoria


Victoria Merritt's nominator would like to remain anonymous.

Ms. Merritt is undoubtedly an outstanding example of what a LifeChanger should be. She has been teaching for eight years and inspires her high school students to rise above their situations and pursue their passions. She was not only inspired by her teachers, who instilled in her a love for learning, but also by her mother, who immigrated to the United States from Argentina. Her mother, Veronica, worked hard in school and struggled academically with a language barrier during a time when ESOL teachers did not exist. Ms. Merritt is adamant about using her mother’s story to show students why they shouldn't take the power of an education for granted.

Ms. Merritt has always been a hard worker. She has a Masters degree in Educational Theory and Practice. During her undergraduate years, she was a Varsity Rower and ACC Champion for Clemson University. 

This past year, Ms. Merritt was featured alongside two of her students on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. These two young men credited her with inspiring them to pursue careers in the teaching profession. These are just two of the many students she continues to inspire to become educators, especially in a state that is struggling with teacher shortages, morale, and pay. Despite these challenges, Ms. Merritt demonstrates to students that the teaching profession is not about the money, but the difference each person can make in the lives of their students.

Ms. Merritt currently teaches AP Microeconomics, Honors Economics, and Teacher Cadet. She not only teaches full time, but she also coaches the Varsity swim team and the Social Studies Quest trivia team, as well as the Model United Nations Club. Under her coaching, the swim team has been region champs, the Quest team has won numerous years in a row, and the Model UN team has won the Winthrop Cup and the Secretariat award. Because of her efforts, Ms. Merritt has been named Region Coach of the Year. She also founded the annual “swimming with the sharks swim camp” which provides free swim lessons for children with special needs. Additionally, she was the co-founder of a coffee shop at her high school that provides work-based skills for special needs students throughout the day. For these reasons and more, she was chosen as the Dorchester District 2 Teacher of the Year. 

Ms. Merritt not only goes above and beyond to help her students and the community, but she also works with colleagues and future teachers. She presents annually at professional development opportunities, hosts student teachers from local colleges, and mentors first year teachers. 

Ms. Merritt also advocates to provide as many opportunities for her students as possible. A student came to her last year and was sad that there wasn't a follow up course to Teacher Cadet (a course designed for students interested in pursuing a career in the teaching profession), so she worked tirelessly to change that. Last year, she spent the year piloting a course that provides college credit through the Citadel for high school students to earn 3 hours in educational psychology.



Comments (33)


Ashley Sawyer Posted 3 days ago

Mrs. Merritt was my high school swim coach, summer league swim coach, and teacher. I was her student volunteer my senior year of high school. Mrs. Merritt taught me so much that I am so thankful for! Because of her I decided to swim in college and become a teacher! I am now a senior and I will be an early childhood teacher that swam each year of college. I am proud of myself, but I could have never accomplished what I have without her! She is most definitely a life changer in my eyes!!!

Aimee Pereira Posted 5 days ago

Even thought my son has not been a student of Mrs Merritt, he is a student at Ashley Ridge. While being involved at ARHS, I have been able to hear a lot about Mrs Merritt. She constantly amazes me in all that she does to see all students succeed. My daugther’s elementary school even benefits from Mrs Merritt’s efforts. Her teacher cadet students are always willing to help at the elementary events which provides role models to younger students. I would like to thank Mrs Merritt for going above and beyond for all students. She is a role model and mentor to so many that she is changing lives all the time not only directly but indirectly too.

Reagan Posted 15 days ago

Mrs. Merritt became one of my favorite teachers, mentors, and friend right off the bat. She supported me in every decision I made but also sat down with me to help me make those decisions. Her passion for her students surpasses her abundant passion for teaching, which is what makes her one of the most influential people in mine and many others I know lives. Mrs. Merritt is not one to teach you and move on but one that continuously checks in on you to see how you are progressing. Her drive to change her community and the world around her blows my mind to see it not just spoken about but taken into action day after day. No one is more deserving of this than her.

Brenna Freer Posted 16 days ago

Coach Merritt has been a huge part of my life. I moved to Charleston in my junior year and it was the best thing that could have happened to me and big part of that was Coach Merritt. I was between moving to two different high schools and after meeting her, I knew Ashley Ridge was where I needed to be. She was my Teacher Cadet teacher for two years, my Model UN coach, my swim coach, and gave me numerous opportunities to give back to my community. She cares about everyone and when there aren't opportunities for others, she finds a way to create those opportunities. For example, she created the Swimming with the Sharks Camp for students with special needs in our community. A completely free swim camp run by volunteers and all created by Merritt because a family once told her that there was no where for their child to take swim lessons at. Everything she does, she puts 100% into because she wants it to be the best. Model UN and swim team win under her leadership.

Abby Baroody Posted 17 days ago

Victoria Merritt, Coach Merritt, and Mrs. Merritt are all different titles she held for me. She was an amazing coach, teacher and person! She is the reason that I am where I am today. She pushed me in so many different ways and helped me find my home today, Coker College. She inspired me to want to travel and see the world, as well as work hard for whatever I want! I am so thankful for everything she has done for me, and to this day she is my biggest inspiration!

Molly Wootton Posted 17 days ago

Victoria Merritt is a phenomenal teacher, amazing coach, beautiful person inside and out, and someone I have had the privilege to call a best friend for 10+ years now. She is competitive for sure haha, but above all she is passionate and loving. We were high school besties and roommates at Clemson University together where she took a high interest in learning about history. Her passion and commitment has allowed her to become a teacher that pushes her children to not only fulfill their education but understand how lucky they are to be educated. Her perspective and outlook on education is what motivates these young future leaders of America. I know these kids adore her both in the classroom and at the pool. I adore her as well, she always jumps in head first to be a guiding hand, as she was also my Maid of Honor at my wedding last year, on top of all of her other day to day responsibilities. She is the definition of a life changer, and I can't think of anyone else who deserves this award more wholeheartedly. Thank you for your consideration. Love you, Vic!

William Ballentine Posted 17 days ago

Victoria is one of my best friend’s older sister, but she also coached me one summer on the neighborhood swim team. She didn’t take it easy on me, and pushed me every practice. This was the first time I had ever swam competitively so I didn’t see myself doing too well. Every morning at 6-7am we had practice that summer. I normally was able to show up on my own, but when I didn’t, I’d wake up to a call from her telling me I needed to get to practice and that I’d be swimming/helping with the younger kids if I didn’t make it on time. I also started the season swimming the 50 in almost a minute...by the end of the season she had got me to get my time down to 25 seconds for the same distance. She put me on the top 4 man free relay team which was huge to me since who would have thought I would have gotten to that position? Well she did. Every week she pushed me to try a new stroke for a new race, just to test me and get me out of my comfort zone. I ended up getting “Most Improved” at the end of the year and it wouldn’t have been possible if not for her persistence with me and pushing me to be the best swimmer I could be. I always like to look back at that summer because it showed me that I could try new things and push myself to succeed in things outside of my comfort zone and I have to give her a huge thanks for her confidence in me!

Rachel Posted 17 days ago

Victoria is more than just a teacher, coach, co-coach, and friend. She is a mentor, and a true inspiration to those around her. Victoria has inspired me and motivated me more than any one person that I have met. When I was struggling with self-confidence and "identity" and feeling like a "could have been D1" and "burnt-out" swimmer, Victoria helped me realize why I feel in love with swimming in the first place. It was not the competitive nature of winning, but rather the fun that I had with the sport. This in turn made me come back and be her assistant coach for 2 summers, giving back to the sport that gave so much to me. Innovative and dynamic are the words I think of when I think of Victoria Merritt. She is never complacent, but rather always asking, "where can we improve?" Victoria is the definition of a servant leader. She demonstrates coolness under pressure, and ably works with those who are not easily satisfied or appeased. She has a collected demeanor that exudes positivity, collaboration, and humor---all traits key to success in her field. Simply put, Victoria Merritt is a an incredible friend, but an even greater mentor, inspiration, and a true life changer.

Libby Posted 18 days ago

Mrs. Merritt has opened so many eyes on education and the true impact of being a teacher! Mrs. Merritt has made me want to become not only just a teacher, but a person who will be able to change life’s like she has done for many! I plan on pursuing in education and becoming a teacher abroad, and be able to impact kids across the country! I am so happy for Mrs. Merritt and proud of all she has accomplished! I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Meaghan Posted 18 days ago

I can’t say enough about the great things Ms Merritt has done. She has always been someone I can go to to talk to when things get hard and I need advice.

Sarah Cochran Posted 18 days ago

Victoria and I worked together at Ashley Ridge High School for several years. During that time, and since, I witnessed Victoria’s dedication to her students, both Social Studies and Teacher Cadet students, her swimmers she coached on the swim team, her Social Studies QUEST team students, her Model UN team students, her school and her community. The list could go on and on and I’m certain I have left some out. Her tireless efforts to make those meaningful connections with her students and to help encourage self motivation within each of them showed every single day. I was, and I continue to be, blown away by her natural ability to just ‘click’ with her students. From teaching cultural dances from far away lands during Geography class to leading the way for future educators in Teacher Cadet class, Victoria conquered it all!!! What an amazing thing to witness!

Morgan Jones Posted 19 days ago

Mrs.Merritt inspire me to peruse a career in the field of education after being apart of her teacher cadet 1 class and also being apart of the first teacher cadet 2 class offered at Ashley Ridge High School. I knew I always had a passion for education, but seeing how Mrs.Merritt inspired me, as well as her other students to become a teacher really is what made me want to major in education and become a teacher. When she walks into the classroom the room lights up, she does whatever it takes to make sure you understand the material, she goes above and beyond for her students. The things I have learned from Merritt are traits I will carry into my classroom one day. I wish every student could experience having Merritt as a teacher. No words can describe how much she has positively impacted my life and my future career within the field of education.

Kathy Chilton Posted 19 days ago

There is not enough space or time to say all the pi Siri even things I feel about this woman personally and professionally. Victoria is like a little hen taking so many of her students under wing, one of being my grand daughter who adores her. She not only teaches her student but mentors them with love and compassion. Because of her dedication and positive attitude towards her students she was honored by two students that were on the Ellen DeGeneres show. Victoria is also an excellent swim coach not only in school but the summer league. She is loved by all her student swimmers and summer league swimmers.

Nancy Skinner Posted 19 days ago

Victoria Merritt is one of the most incredible Women I have ever met. I actually met her for the first time when my Daughter was 3. She was home for the Summer from Clemson. She was at the pool providing swim lessons. My little girl wanted nothing to do with any of it. Victoria was patient and kind. She continued the next summer teaching her to swim. Then when my daughter was 7, she decided she wanted to swim. So we signed her up at the pool where Victoria was Coaching was coaching the Summer Swim Team Newington Tigersharks. We have been swimming with her and continue to swim on that team and now my daughter is 13. She is still in Middle School, but now swims for Victoria at Ashley Ridge. My daughter and I refuse to have any other Coach. Not only is this Woman dedicated to Youth, but she teaches them integrity, good Sportsmanship and expects the best out of them. Victoria has definitely changed the course of my Daughters life and I could never say enough about how great she is. Thank you, Victoria!

Allison VanOsdol Posted 19 days ago

I moved to South Carolina in August of my junior year of high school. Just a few days after moving, our new next door neighbors came to introduce themselves. We were very happy to know that Victoria was a teacher at the school we would be attending, and she quickly became a friend and mentor to both my sister and I. Personally, I have seen her change the lives of everyone she comes in contact with. I have seen her balance so many things, often times while her husband is away with work. She balances teaching multiple classes, coaching swim, and doing multiple other things to help the community while raising a wonderfully sweet son. She is nothing short of an inspiration to me and I don’t think anyone can deserve this more than she does! It has been an absolute honor knowing her the last 5 years!

Ansley Jones Posted 19 days ago

I have had the privilege of knowing Victoria Merritt for six years, as a coach and also as an educator. Her undying fire to want to push individuals to be their absolute best versions of themselves is one of her many amazing qualities. She has impacted my life so greatly, without her pushing me, and never letting me give up I would not be where I am today. Without her I would have quit swimming and would have never gotten my college swimming scholarship. She has changed my life and many others and will continue being a role model and mentor in our community and society.

Corey Geer Posted 19 days ago

I watched Victoria Merritt on The Ellen Degeneres show with her two students. She was so gracious and even though they credited their success to her, she turned it back to the students. That humbleness is one of a kind and an example of a true teacher. I know she is changing not just the lives of those two students but also all the students she comes in contact with!

maddie hooks Posted 19 days ago

Mrs. Merritt has opened up the world of teaching for me and I can’t thank her enough. She was one of the teachers that inspired me to want become a teacher and to hopefully have the same impact on my future students as she has with all of hers. She is a truly remarkable person and I am so thankful to have had her as my teacher and mentor during my high school career.

Markie Leonard Posted 19 days ago

Mrs. Merritt has made one of the biggest impact on my life! She is a devoted teacher and friend whom has push me to the best of my ability. Because of her I want to become a teacher and nothing compares to the real world lessons she has taught me. She has opened many doors for me and my fellow classmates as well as given me opportunities I would have never had with any other teacher. It’s hard to find such a strong, hard-working, devoted, teacher, mother, wife, and friend. Mrs. Merritt’s don’t come around often, be a Mrs.Merritt.

Lesley Weathers Posted 19 days ago

I have known Victoria for over 8 years and had the privilege of teaching alongside and learning from a Victoria in Spartanburg School District 7 for a year and then remaining close friends thereafter. Victoria has not only been an educator that I have gained so much knowledge from and applied into educating and loving my own students but she has been a continued source of inspiration to me. Victoria’s love for not only her profession but each individual student is a source of encouragement to me daily. She teaches and instills not only content but love, tolerance, and knowledge that goes far beyond any textbook or set of standards.

Kelly Posted 19 days ago

Victoria has been a part of my families life for 15 years . In those 15 years , we have watched her touch lives both in and out of the swimming pool. Ms Merritt builds relationships that are long lasting with the adults and children she works with. As a result of Ms. Merritt’s passion for teaching and being a positive role model , she has changed lives in our neighborhood swimming pool , our high school classrooms and our community .

Chris Graham Posted 19 days ago

Victoria is the perfect example of what it means to be a life changer. She goes out of her way to provide incredible opportunities for her family, her students and her community. I’ve coached two swim teams with her. She has elevated both teams to the highest level of competitiveness and fun. I’ve also seen her provide hundreds of children and adults with access to affordable and effective swim lessons. The town of Summerville needs more people like Victoria Merritt.

Libby Posted 19 days ago

Mrs. Merritt has opened so many eyes on education and the true impact of being a teacher! Mrs. Merritt has made me want to become not only just a teacher, but a person who will be able to change life’s like she has done for many! I plan on pursuing in education and becoming a teacher abroad, and be able to impact kids across the country! I am so happy for Mrs. Merritt and proud of all she has accomplished! I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Emily Posted 19 days ago

Mrs. Merritt has made one of the biggest impacts on my life and I’m am so grateful to have her as my teacher for teacher cadet. She is amazing at what she does, and I hope I can be as good of a teacher as her one day!

Darius Smith Posted 19 days ago

Mere-bear is the original GOAT! She taught me as a freshman in World Geography and as a senior in AP Econ and Teacher Cadet. She also helped me join Model UN and gave me confidence in public speaking as a freshman . Without her I definitely would not be becoming a teacher. She prepped me for scholarship opportunities and for real world experiences and was so much more than just a teacher. Even now as a freshman in college she came to an event at the college to support me and some of her other students because she actually cares about us like we are her own kids.

Kathy Chilton Posted 19 days ago

There is not enough space or time to say all the pi Siri even things I feel about this woman personally and professionally. Victoria is like a little hen taking so many of her students under wing, one of being my grand daughter who adores her. She not only teaches her student but mentors them with love and compassion. Because of her dedication and positive attitude towards her students she was honored by two students that were on the Ellen DeGeneres show. Victoria is also an excellent swim coach not only in school but the summer league. She is loved by all her student swimmers and summer league swimmers.

Lesley Weathers Posted 19 days ago

I have known Victoria for over 8 years and had the privilege of teaching alongside and learning from a Victoria in Spartanburg School District 7 for a year and then remaining close friends thereafter. Victoria has not only been an educator that I have gained so much knowledge from and applied into educating and loving my own students but she has been a continued source of inspiration to me. Victoria’s love for not only her profession but each individual student is a source of encouragement to me daily. She teaches and instills not only content but love, tolerance, and knowledge that goes far beyond any textbook or set of standards.

Larky Posted 19 days ago

I have known Victoria for many years and have watched her inspire so many children and teens. She tirelessly encourages students and swimmers to reach their full potential. Victoria goes above and beyond to create an environment for all children to achieve success.

Jaheim President Posted 19 days ago

Mrs Merritt is a example of the kind of teacher I want to be when I have my own classroom. She’s always thinking about others and goes the extra mile for her students. I Hope I can have the same impact on my students that she had on me. I keep telling her I can’t wait to be her coworker someday.

Ethan Posted 19 days ago

Coach Victoria has been a huge part of my life. From teaching me to swim to being someone that I can count on now even as an adult, I am grateful for having her in my life. She made me love the sport of swimming but also helped me see the important parts of the sport like sportsmanship and how to be a teammate.

Jayme Sobotka Posted 3 months ago

I’ve known Victoria for a couple of years and am so impressed with all that she does for her community! Such a well deserved honor!

Becca Posted 3 months ago

Victoria has inspired me for years as a younger swimmer looking up to an older swimmer, a swimmer looking up to a coach, and now as an assistant coach looking up to a head coach. She has never taken no for an answer and encourages everyone to do their best every day. She is respected and loved by so many in every setting she is apart of. I have been so lucky to know her most of my life and can agree she is certainly a life changer.

Veronica Posted 3 months ago

A true life changer! What a great role model doing even greater things for the community!