Imagine a school teacher who is flexible enough and smart enough to teach either language arts or math, whichever the school system needs that semester.
There is no need to imagine because that describes Gary Pearman the winner of the ExCEL Award Wednesday in the Elizabethtown Independent School District.
Gary Pearman believes he was born to teach middle school.
His world is seventh and eighth graders at T.K. Stone, and that's an age group that many educators find challenging.
But Pearman sees only potential in his classroom.
They are the faces and voice of middle school and he says he's known since his first year of teaching that this is his place, his age group.
He said he likes to see, “the excitement on their faces. When I walk through the door, if I’m tired, I open that door and it's something about walking in, it kind of energizes me.”
Even during lunch, the energy is flowing.
Gary Pearman is like a magnet for students and that made him the top choice for the ExCEL Award, almost by acclamation.
To understand why he excels, fellow teacher say you have to see Pearman’s interaction with parents, to fully understand his impact in the community.
“He is in constant contact with them. He emails them and lets them know what he's working on in class, how the children are doing, if someone is missing assignments, he's calling them.”
Thanks to new technology, Pearman is talking to parents almost daily.
“Huge, huge advantage. The kids may sometimes prefer us not to have so much contact with the parents but it's good for them, it's good for the whole situation,” he said.
The front rows of the auditorium were filled with his family, who were celebrating his achievement, but also still mourning the loss of a family member, a marine in Afghanistan Matt Hanson.
“He is my nephew by marriage. Last week was a rough week. So I’m wearing this in his honor. I'm amazed at home much the community showed their support for us,” said Pearman.
Support from a community that Gary Pearman has supported with his hard work and commitment to children. And Wednesday, they gathered to show their affection for a man who works overtime everyday for their children.