Students learn best when they can learn from their mistakes.
John Price, English teacher at Gainesville High School, believes students who aren’t embarrassed to make mistakes in the classroom will be the most open to learning.
Price was recently named both the schoolwide and districtwide Teacher of the Year. Despite these accolades, Price said he first got into teaching out of necessity.
“I didn’t intend to teach,” Price said. “It was never my childhood ambition. I went to law school blindly for a year. One of the great lessons of my life and to my students is to be sure you’re experiencing what you think you might be interested in.”
Price, a North Hall High School and University of Georgia graduate, attended law school at the University of Alabama for “about a year and a day,” he said, before realizing it wasn’t the right path for him.
“I think if I had done something with the law in high school, I would have seen it wasn’t a good fit for me and would have done something else. I had an English degree in Alabama and my wife said to me, ‘You must have a job,’” he joked. “I started teaching and working on my master’s simultaneously.”
He and his wife Kathryn are Hall County natives. They live in Clermont with their three small children.
When he graduated from North Hall, the school was arch rival with Gainesville High, he said.
“When I started working here, it was a bit like being a turncoat,” he said. “I’m a Red Elephant now for sure.”
Price described himself as “easygoing, flexible and riding the tide of learning.” He called his classroom “a constant conversation.”
“I typically teach seniors who are right on the verge of being grown up and they’re excited and curious,” he said. “I love teaching literature because it’s about paying attention and asking good questions. It’s being able to dwell with the ambiguity of life, so it’s constantly stimulating for me. I learn as much as they do.”
On a good day at Gainesville High, Price said his job is thrilling.
“It’s exciting on a daily basis,” he said. “I’m reading wonderful literature with active, curious students. I just love it.”
Senior Alexandria Robertson said Price makes his students feel comfortable sharing in the classroom.
“At first I was really nervous to take his class because it’s an honors class, but I came up to him when we had open house and he calmed all my fears,” Robertson said. “You could be in the worst mood ever and walk into Price’s class and instantly be calmed.”
Price said he’s learned over the last nine years the importance of letting students learn from their mistakes. He said he’s laid back because of this mentality.
“I think my biggest teaching truth is that you have to let students make mistakes and you have to let them make the mistakes that are going to allow them to grow as explorers of the possibilities of knowledge,” he said.
Senior Michael Curry said he believes Price deserves to be teacher of the year.
“He’s one of my favorite teachers, by far,” Curry said. “He’s laid back and brings a lot of humor when he teaches. I think that’s what grabs me the most, because I like being a funny guy. It just makes learning fun.”
Nathan Williams, senior at Gainesville High, said he wasn’t surprised to hear Price was the teacher of the year.
“He’s the man,” Williams said. “Coming to his class every day, he’s always in the same mood. He’s not an up-and-down guy; he’s always super happy and cool in the classroom. He makes the environment a lot of fun.”
Price said he is humbled and mystified to be named teacher of the year. Any instructor who works to help children better themselves deserves equal recognition, he said, but he is grateful for the opportunity to shed light on the hard work of all teachers.
“We get a lot of press here with our academics and our extracurriculars, but we’re about teaching and learning,” he said. “To get some credit for those things is great.”