When Shelby County voters were deciding on a half-cent sales tax in 2012, Carl Price saw an opportunity.
The Bartlett High School Algebra I teacher used that social event to demonstrate to his student how the vote could impact their purchases. It’s the kind of math that outcome based education seeks to discover, but it’s also something Price has always done.
“I incorporate into each lesson a practical application into what we’re about to learn,” said Price, who’s been teaching at Bartlett for 20 years.
Price, 61, started with Shelby County Schools in 1978. He worked for a couple of middle schools in the district before getting a chance to teach at his alma mater in 1993. It was a job he had aspired to since changing careers in the mid-1970s.
After graduating from Bartlett, Price earned his degree in Psychology from Memphis State University. He worked in his chosen field for a while, but decided he wanted something more. So, he took some advice from his older brother, who was a math teacher at Millington High School.
“I was always a capable math student, and I loved children,” said Price. “So, I decided to put the two together. I love it and I still love it.”
But Price sees his teaching as more than just achieving a level of understanding in mathematics. A devout Christian, he sees his job as that as a minister to his students as much as someone who teaches them Algebraic basics. He believes the same passion with which he teaches in his classroom is demonstrated in his own family.
“We brought up our kids in the life of Jesus Christ, and I believe that has helped them to choose their career paths.
Price and his wife, Kathy — a first-grade teacher at Rivercrest Elementary — raised two kids. Their daughter, Lauren, is now a teacher near Lexington, Tenn., as is her husband, Adam. Michael, their son, will graduate soon with his Masters of Divinity from Covenant Seminary in St. Louis. He will be married Aug. 10 to his fiancee, Caroline. The family has attended for decades Bartlett United Methodist Church, where Price also taught Sunday school for about nine years of that.
It’s the Christian attitude, and being a bit of a stickler for following the guidelines, that has kept Price as one of the highly revered math teachers by the Bartlett administration.
“You develop an understanding that just because we all don’t look the same doesn’t mean we all don’t feel the same,” said Price. “You have to let kids knows that you like them. It’s an important aspect of teaching that gets overlooked.”
Through the years, Price has seen a number of education standards change. He looks at each change as an opportunity, one that he embraces as he prepares students each year to meet the requirements.
“You try to adhere to the guidelines,” he said. “You take something a good teacher has always done and you put it into concrete terms.”
That means for the common core requirements — in which more rigorous written explanations are required of students, particularly in math — Price does much of what he’s always done: prepare students to understand the concept, look for feedback from his students regarding their understanding of the concept and continue to teach the concept until he’s satisfied that his students have learned it.
Still, Price is realistic about the varying levels of the students he teaches.
“Even some of the best teachers won’t reach all the kids,” he said. “But the methods do promote a more thorough learning experience for all kids who want to participate.”
And at at time when some teachers might be looking to put aside their lesson plans, Price has no plans of retiring anytime soon.
“I’m looking forward to teaching in the Bartlett municipal school system,” he said. “I feel it’s important to be able to teach in a community school rather than a large system. I feel strongly that Bartlett municipal schools will have the family atmosphere of the Shelby County Schools of the past.”
Price also said he’s not ready to leave the career he’s loved for the past 35 years.
“Teaching keeps me young,” he said. “Going from year to year, seeing the excitement on students’ faces when they truly understand a concept they’ve been struggling with, that let’s me know I’m doing my job.
“Once you find something you love, it’s a pleasure doing it for many years,” said Price.