• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Teacher of the Year: Helping students learn life skills in science at WCMS

GEOFF SPRINKLE offered individual assistance to Mia Van Hoose, pictured at left. "Even (after) 16 years of teaching, I'm still learning. I still learn from the kids . And I still want to learn," says Sprinkle. Also pictured, are Ryan Perkins and Alex Owens, at right. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

Teaching was not a career that Geoff Sprinkle ever planned to pursue when he was a high school student. Yet, other people often told him he worked well with kids. Sprinkle remembers being only 12 or 13 years old when his mom told him to sign up as a volunteer at a summer day camp for students with special needs. He dreaded getting up early that summer, but says, "I can distinctly remember helping those kids out." Reflecting on that experience and others, Sprinkle has come to realize, "I enjoyed working with youth" years before he ever made the decision to leave his career as a lab technician - work that was not fulfilling - and begin his career in the classroom. "There's nothing really monotonous about teaching at all," says Sprinkle, now in his 11th year teaching science at WCMS. "It's always something new. Even (after) 16 years of teaching, I'm still learning. I still learn from the kids . And I still want to learn." He views middle school as an age when students need positive role models in their lives, and an age of opportunity to develop their life and thinking skills. "We're . doing a lot of problem-solving," says Sprinkle of science. "We're not in the age of reading out of a textbook, and then answering questions. It's more - Here's a problem and let's use some science information and some science thought to figure out how we can solve this problem." Sprinkle says being named Teacher of the Year at Woodford County Middle School simply means he was selected for an honor while being a part of a great staff of educators, who learn from each other. "I always want to hear what other (teachers) are doing in their classrooms," says Sprinkle. "There's always room to grow." Sprinkle, who began his teaching career at Crawford Middle School, where he spent his first five years, had a passion for teaching early on. Now he gets to watch his former students have their own successes in life. "I had a small role in this person getting here. I had a small role in that," says Sprinkle, who earned his teacher certification at age 30. Sprinkle lives in Woodford County with his wife, Jackie. They will celebrate their 21st anniversary on Dec. 29. They have a daughter, Emelia, a seventh-grader at WCMS, and a son, Grant, a sophomore at WCHS. (This is the sixth and final article in a series of feature stories on Woodford County Public Schools' Teachers of the Year.)

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