John Pier – East Lee Middle School

Our Welcome To Sanford Teacher of the Week is John Pier of East Lee Middle School. Mr. Pier is a sixth-grade social studies teacher and has been a part of the Rockets’ family for the entirety of his eight-year teaching career. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Social Studies Education from Slippery Rock University. Mr. Pier was recently recognized as East Lee’s 2018-19 Teacher of the Year.

Many teachers have a consistent approach to teaching. Mr. Pier makes a conscious decision to modify his philosophy each year, so that he may incorporate new strategies that allow him the flexibility to meet his students’ needs. Mr. Pier observes, “As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, ‘Intelligence plus character — that is the true goal of education’. I teach the whole child. My lessons teach students the importance of hard work, discipline and respect.”

Mr. Pier didn’t know what he wanted to do after school until his senior year. That’s when a friend’s mother, who was a teacher, asked him “What do you want to do with your life?” Mr. Pier recalls, “That was a question I could answer. I told her how I wanted a job that people respected and that made a difference. She then had me make a list of all the different jobs that had those qualities. After the list was made, one job stood out to me: teacher. That was when I knew, finally, what I wanted to be.”

Mr. Pier thinks his best teaching experiences happen every day in his sixth-grade classroom, noting “They are the relationships I form with each of my students. I am determined to provide them with exactly what they need so that they will be successful in this 21st century, global world. I am passionate about building relationships with my students and challenging them to accept nothing short of their best. As a teacher and coach, my students and players know that I will hold them to high expectations. The greatest contribution any teacher can make is providing the very best education that we possibly can, despite the challenges we all face. Each student who steps into our classroom is different and has their own individual needs and challenges when it comes to their education. Teaching gives me pride, fulfillment and joy!”

Mr. Pier continues, “When asked, ‘is teaching worth it?’ by people looking for a career in education, I consider the rewards, and the list seems endless. Here are two examples that certainly make it to the top of my list: a student who is struggling to find an identity learns to exercise self-control; and a student who previously had little motivation to achieve becomes determined to push beyond what they thought possible. What an honor it is to witness lives transform.”

In addition to teaching, Mr. Pier is also the Boys’ and Girls’ Soccer Coach, Leadership Team Member, Social Studies Department Chair, Beginning Teacher Mentor, MTSS Member, Jr. Tar Heels Historian Association Member, AVID Tutor, Project PASS Instructor and CICO Mentor.