Golden Apple Winner: Mark Sargeant teaches through encouragement

Reported by: Joe Legge
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Updated: 8/13/2012 4:52 pm
While some teacher's use words like achieve and excel to describe their classroom expectations, peace serves as the theme for Mark Sargeant's class. "The Lord gives us peace and that's what we want for all of us. The children and the big children."

Sargeant started teaching 37 years ago. Over the years, he's taught everything from 1st to 12th grade -- in various combinations. "I've been in a one teacher school and had all 8 grades, I have also taught grades 2 & 3, 5 & 8, grades 5 & 6, I've taught in high school," he says.

Although he's the principal at Lester Coon Adventist School in Apison -- he's also a full time teacher... managing a classroom of third, fourth, and fifth graders. "There are many times that there are hands up and I wish I could be two people."

Sargeant counts on his older students to peer tutor, like 5th grader Tre' Smith. "When I'm done with my math and social studies, I can go around and help the other students with their math or social studies."

With three different age groups, Sargeant uses encouragement to pull his class together, like a team. Playing a game of ball toss, students must build up their classmates, telling them "good try" when things don't fall their way. 5th grader John Coulter says "its better to encourage them because if they fail they'll just try to try again."

When conflicts do arise, Sargeant pulls out this peace blanket to help students to deal with their disagreements. "You'd be surprised how many issues get solved right here and we actually bring it up in front of the class and they can do it in front of everyone."

Sargeant believes children respond best when they're having a good time, but he's not afraid to law down the law. "Its always a challenge to blend that but when they trust you, when they have confidence in you, and when they know that your working for their best good and that you will be fair with them and will listen, then they are willing to accept your authority also."
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