Teacher of The Year 2020-21 | George PringleMay 4, 2020
“My students are my inspiration!” These words, spoken by P.K. Yonge’s 2020-21 Teacher of the Year, are at the core of his success. George Pringle’s greatest inspiration comes from students who declare they don’t like math, or can’t do math. He takes the long view…grounded in the advice he gives new teachers. Impacting students happens one day at a time.
Pringle believes that all students can learn math regardless of their past experiences and his commitment to knowing his learners is evident. “The only way to adapt strategies to meet student needs is to really understand and value the knowledge, skills, and experiences students bring to your classroom,” he says, “We have to see each student as a unique individual with unique abilities and learning needs.” Mr. Pringle is intentional about creating safe learning spaces where students feel respected and valued, and is deliberate about building positive relationships with all students.
In these safe learning spaces, students are able to take risks, share ideas, and discover abilities that they didn’t know they had. Pringle’s classroom is a hub of thinking, discussion and movement and the often self-conscious 7th graders are swept up by Mr. Pringle, confident in his abilities to relate to his students, correct misconceptions, and lay the foundation for success in high school. Mr. Pringle’s 7th graders consistently score the highest among Florida districts on standardized tests, but their growth doesn’t end there. His efforts to develop his own cultural competence and help students reach their intellectual, social, and emotional potential means that Mr. Pringle’s students leave their 7th grade year with more than increased academic maturity. They mature as learners and as individuals.
Mr. Pringle does more than teach math, he encourages students to develop mathematical habits of mind, which could be argued apply across all disciplines and all aspects of life – make sense of a problem, persevere, reason abstractly and quantitatively, use appropriate tools strategically and attend to precision. In her recommendation for Mr. Pringle for the 2015 Presidential Award for Excellence in Math/Science Teaching, Savannah Branch (Class of 2016) reflected, “He knew that we knew more than we thought we did, and showed us that by approaching problems differently we can be much more successful in mathematics, or any subject for that matter.”
Pringle, a second-career educator of 19 years, became a teacher because “teaching was, and is a noble profession.” According to Pringle, the rewards lie in having a front row seat to students’ growth in skill and confidence as math learners, in having the opportunity to equip students with knowledge and skills to become successful adults, and in having his own effectiveness reflected in feedback from past students and families.
Pringle approaches his profession with a self-stated growth mindset. This mindset is reflected in his firm commitment to continuous improvement and his efforts to support students in reaching their intellectual, social, and emotional potential. For the last 12 years, Pringle has engaged in teacher inquiry action research. This systematic means by which teachers study and reflect on their own practice informs instructional decision-making and serves as a constant source for professional growth. Pringle’s research efforts have emerged in response to challenges encountered in his own classroom and have resulted in strategies to bridge gaps and accelerate learning, in systems for structured support for problem-solving, and in strategies to engage students in attending help sessions.
In addition to deep knowledge of content and being well-prepared, Mr. Pringle advises student teachers to let students know you care, and build positive relationships. His door is always open, students know he is open to any question, be it 7th grade math, calculus, or even science. Word on the street is that he’s a “cool guy” and he might even share home-cooked Jamaican food with you!
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