Teachers of the Year

Published 10:01 pm Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It seems only natural John Tice has found a career in the classroom.

It’s the world in which he grew up.

His father teaches special education, his uncle is a math teacher, his mom is a teacher assistant and his wife is a third grade teacher with him at Northern Shores Elementary School.

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“I come from a family of teachers,” Tice said. “And I always like working with kids, so it seemed like a natural thing.”

It’s a natural fit indeed as Tice was just named the 2009 City-Wide Teacher of the Year for Suffolk Public Schools.

“It is kind of surprising,” Tice said. “It’s a nice surprise.”

In a released statement to Suffolk Public Schools, Leigh Bennett, principal at Northern Shores Elementary School, said Tice empowers his students to “soar academically.”

“He builds a community of learners by creating a classroom of unquestionable support and mutual respect,” Bennett said.

Tice said he builds this community through a simple strategy: make learning fun.

“Kids today have all this technology at their hands,” Tice said. “I try to teach that way. I try to incorporate technology into the classroom. I try to make this hands on because that’s what they relate to.”

Tice also relates the important lessons he has learned in his life to his students. In 1998, Tice suffered a spinal cord injury that left him wheelchair bound.

Tice said he uses his experience to let the kids know they will go through hard times, but they can persevere.

“I tell them life’s not always a piece of cake,” he said. “There is something that won’t always come easy for you. I keep telling them to keep striving and trying their best. With hard work, good things will happen.”

Tice said that his work is made possible thanks to the staff at Northern Shores.

“I appreciate the staff and faculty at Northern Shores Elementary School because we’re a pretty close knit family there,” Tice said. “I get a lot of help and a lot of advice from the other teachers, and I almost feel like I can’t take all the credit here.”

Tice also thanked his family for all of their support and help.

“I have a great family,” he said. “Family is really important.”

His family is also expanding; Tice and his wife are expecting twins (a boy and a girl) this June.

“We’re really excited,” he said.

Also recognized this week were Suffolk Public Schools’ Middle School Teacher of the Year, the High School Teacher of the Year and the Rookie Teacher of the Year. The selection committee picks three citywide teachers of the year: one from elementary, one from middle, and one from the high school level. The overall citywide teacher of the year is selected from that group.

Renita Langston was named the 2009 Middle School Teacher of the Year. Langston teaches pre-algebra at John F. Kennedy Middle School.

Sherri Story was named the 2009 High School Teacher of the Year. Story is a biology teacher at King’s Fork High School.

And Sandra Deskevich, an English teacher at King’s Fork High School, was named the 2009 City-Wide Rookie Teacher of the Year.