Stokes Early College High School’s Sayrd Price has been named the Stokes County Teacher of the Year.
Price was surprised by the announcement during the school’s award ceremony last Thursday.
“Mr. Price’s instructional activities create excitement, engagement, and personal connects to learning and academic standards,” said Stokes Early College Principal Misti Holloway. “His classroom environment is fun and inviting with stability balls in place of chairs, two classroom pets that are used in teachable moments, and activities that meet the learning needs of visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners. He is a diligent, passionate instructor, and he is a motivated, active leader. I predict he will achieve boundless success in his continued academic and career pursuits. Our students are fortunate to experience his knowledge and charisma in the classroom , and his colleagues, including me, are lucky to witness the energy and knowledge he brings to instruction.”
Price said he bases his instruction on a variety of mantras including “work hard and play hard” and “safety third.”
“I try to get the students out of their seats and involved in the lessons and try to get them to correlate it to what is happening in their lives as well,” said Price. “I try to make it about them. We do a lot of problem solving activities and a lot of group work where they have to collaborate together and build on each of their strengths and weaknesses. You cannot succeed without failure and getting them to understand that is one of the biggest things we do.”
Price, who teaches earth science and biology at the school, tries to have his students do at least one one hands on activity, like dissections, every other week.
“We also have the classroom filled with yoga balls,” he said. “Those kind of occupy their subconscious while I am working on their main thoughts.”
Price has brought his own personal experiences and drive into the classroom environment, drawing on a hisory of science related work experience, and his own drive as an Ironman triathlete.
“I look at teaching as performing three to four shows a day with required attendance,” said Price. “Show ratings are not based on viewers, but instead by student learning experiences. An outstanding teacher is able to shift from one role to another as attitudes change and challenges arise. The objective within the classroom is not based on state or national standards, but a moral obligation to provide a learning environment that empowers student to take charge of their academic, social and professional prowess. Student passion, will power, and desire to improve themselves is the most significant reward in this profession.”
But Price does not stop his involvement at the classroom door. He is involved with the student body every step of the way, from driving activity buses to starting a variety of clubs at the school including a soap box derby club, a garden club, and a mountain biking club.
“He is in the thick of the students,” said Holloway. “He is really just a big kid himself in a lot of respects and he makes learning fun. He helps out wherever he can and that is something that makes a strong educator.”
“I try to be a friend or an older brother to a lot of these students,” he said, noting that the environment at the Early College feels more like a large family than a school.
Participating in that sort of environment has been a goal for Price since he was high school student himself.
“My junior and senior years of high school I went from being in public school to homeschooling,” he explained. “I was able to go to Surry Community College full time before they had regulations, so when I learned about early colleges I said this is the same thing I did in a lot of ways but with more structure and I wanted to be a part of that.”
Before becoming a teacher Price served as a biological field technician for the Blue Ridge Parkway, a restoration ecology technician for the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Preserve in Hawaii, a naturalist intern for the North American Land trust and an educational interpreter for the North Carolina Aquarium.
“I had a desire to want to learn more, and I noticed that other people had that desire,” he said. “I felt like that was something that should be shared and celebrated.”
That desire led Price into the education world, where he served for five years as a middle school science teacher in Davie County before coming to the Early College.
His fellow teachers said they were honored to have the chance to teach alongside Price.
“Sayrd’s brilliance is quite obvious to anyone who even spends a moment in his class as he consistently pushes the levels of academic excellence,” said Dr. Patrick Minges. “He is at the top of his game in comparison to both teachers at the high school and collegiate level. He is propelled by a demand for excellence that I have very seldom encountered in any teacher I have ever worked with at the high school, university, and even the graduate level.”
“With confidence I can say his energy in the classroom equals his passion for the educational profession,” agreed Samuel Brown. “Each year his love of learning and insatiable curiosity is transferred seamlessly to his students and it is with great anticipation they enter his classroom each day. Mr. Price’s classroom is that of exploration and discovery.”
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.