CarolinaTIP Educator Adam Rafferty was presented with the University of South Carolina College of Education’s 2024 Outstanding New Teacher Award at its annual Champions of Education Gala in late March.

Nominees for this award have been in the teaching profession for no more than five years but have demonstrated a strong ability to foster excellence in the classroom in that short time.

Born in Owensboro, Kentucky, Rafferty began playing cello at four years old under Dr. Joan Mack, a graduate of Eastman School of Music and a teacher of the Suzuki method. While in her studio, he successfully auditioned and performed in the Kentucky All-State Orchestra from 2000-2003 and the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts in 2002.

Rafferty graduated from the University of Kentucky with degrees in Cello Performance and Public Relations in 2007. He then relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, where he worked as a freelance cellist, a performing musician and as a recording studio musician. He also played in a string quartet that worked closely with Mark Wood, founder of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. These experiences allowed him to learn alternative styles of music, including bluegrass, blues, rock and jazz, which he enjoys sharing with his students.

In 2019, Rafferty received a degree in Music Education from the University of South Carolina. He is currently the Director of Orchestras at Dreher High School and teaches cello lessons and group classes at the Suzuki Academy of Columbia.

Rafferty plays in several local orchestras, including Long Bay, Rock Hill and Union Symphony. He has also toured and performed with a variety of music groups and artists including the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Woodstock legend Arlo Guthrie. It is with great joy that he teaches children to love, understand and perform music.