Tice is Wal-Mart’s Teacher of the Year

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 9, 2005

John Tice was the star of the morning news at Windsor Elementary School Wednesday.

Wayne Carter, the assistant principal, went on the school airwaves to share news that Tice, a fourth-grade instructor, had been named Teacher of the Year by both the downtown and northern Suffolk Wal-Mart stores.

Tice was presented with the surprise recognition during a small reception at the downtown store Tuesday. A handful of his colleagues and students attended the event in the store’s snack bar.

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&uot;The students were very excited for me,&uot; said Tice, a Pennsylvania native. &uot;Kids I don’t even know have been coming up telling me congratulations and bringing me little gifts all week.&uot;

For the past couple of months, both stores had been accepting nominations from customers for the annual award. Unbeknownst to store officials until last week, panels of judges from each store independently selected Tice for the honor.

Each store gave Tice a $1,000 gift certificate for the school, a $50 gift card and a goodie bag of school supplies

A anonymous nomination to each store noted that Tice-a quadriplegic since a high school baseball injury-refused to be deterred from his dream of teaching elementary school.

&uot;He motivates and inspires 9- and 10-year-olds in his classroom to achieve their best,&uot; the letter read. &uot;He is a lesson to his students and coworkers in working hard and never giving up your dreams. He tells and shows his students that they can do anything.&uot;

Tice’s success at overcoming the challenges in his own life made him the unanimous winner from among the 40 nominations received at the downtown store, said assistant manager Brenda Boone.

&uot;His story was incredible, inspiring,&uot; she said. &uot;It shows that it’s not how many times you get knocked down but how many times you get up that you are judged for.

&uot;…Kids need to strive to do the best they can with life’s bumps and bruises,&uot; she continued. &uot;Despite everything that happened to him, he (Tice) got up and went forward to conquer his dream.&uot;

Tice, 26,

has been teaching at Windsor since he and his wife, Sheree, a second-grade teacher at King’s Fork Elementary School, moved to north Suffolk two years ago.

Tice deserves the stores’ awards, said his colleagues.

&uot;He loves the kids and it comes through,&uot; said fellow teacher Linda Frilles. &uot;They show respect to him that they may not always show other teachers.&uot;

He makes school more enjoyable for students and employees, added teacher Lee Miller.

&uot;He has a great sense of humor,&uot; she said. &uot;Whenever we are having a trying day, he can always come up with something funny. &uot;He is a wonderful example to the children and all of us.&uot;

&uot;He is my favorite teacher, &uot;said Charles Watson, 10. &uot;He’s in a wheelchair and he’s even done wheelies at recess.

&uot;…I built a Lego version of Mr. Tice and gave it to him,&uot; he said. &uot;He keeps it on his desk and calls it ‘mini me.’&uot;

Saying he was surprised to receive the award, Tice credited his wife, family and coworkers with his success in the classroom.

&uot;I couldn’t do it without all of them,&uot; he said. &uot;And the kids at Windsor are really great .&uot;