John Sell is an English teacher at Sussex Technical High School in Georgetown who was named the 2012 Sussex Technical School District Teacher of the Year.
The Sussex Countian caught up with Sell to find out more about his teaching approach and experiences at Sussex Tech.
Q What made you want to become a teacher?
A Growing up in Pennsylvania, my family was not very affluent. My mom dropped out of high school because she became pregnant her junior year. My dad graduated and went into the Navy. They both stressed education because they didn't want me and my two brothers and two sisters to follow the same path. They really impressed that upon me, and I sort of took it literally regarding my career, which now spans 22 years.
Q What do you love most about teaching English to high school juniors and seniors?
A I love interacting with people all day long. I like sharing in their emotions and feelings about what they've read. I like seeing what makes the kids tick. I especially enjoy watching the kids grow throughout the year. It's very rewarding to encourage that kind of growth in a person.
Q How has the profession changed since you first became a teacher?
A It's much more data driven now. When I started in 1990, teachers would make decisions based on their professional instincts regarding what they thought was good for kids. Now it's driven a lot more by actual evidence from things like pre- and post-tests and writing samples. We take that data and create more precise lessons that match up with the core curriculum areas that students need to work on the most. We also do a lot more with computers, as far as examining student data. It's all to make the best possible experience for the students.
Q What advice would you give to a teacher who is just starting their career?
A Be ready to work much harder than you ever thought was possible. After 22 years, you might think I would have it down and could coast a little, but the opposite is the case. Because of the ways the profession has changed over the years, you have to be more committed to being effective now more than ever. And that's a good thing. This is the most important profession there is, after all.
More About Sell
Hometown Leamersville, Pa.
Current residence Frederica
Family Wife, Michelle; Sons, Tyler and Michael
Favorite Food Steak
Favorite TV Show Modern Family
Favorite Book Any classic 19thCentury American or British literature