FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Nick Crowder is a South Forsyth High School teacher equipped for the future.
At South Forsyth HS, Crowder serves as chair for the career/tech department, coach for the robotics team and advises the technology students association, which sponsors community events each year such as food and toy drives.
Last year, his robotics team won the state championship for Georgia.
Crowder is also the 2013 Forsyth County Teacher of the Year, which was announced Feb. 15 at the 18th annual Celebration of Excellence.
Crowder said he started teaching after praying to God to guide him in a career, “with a true meaning and be helpful to people.”
Crowder, who started teaching in 2001, has a bachelor's degree from Southern Illinois University and a master's degree from the University of Georgia. He said what makes him an outstanding teach is that he cares about students.
“All of them,” Crowder said. “Every single one of them. No matter their circumstances. I care about them and the period of life they are in. With one foot in childhood and one foot in adulthood, students are looking to me for affirmation.
“My message to students is, ‘You have what it takes. You can do it. I’m here for you.’”
Crowder teaches students that failure is okay.
“I want them to fail,” Crowder said. “I literally applaud and pat them on the back and tell them they are doing a great job when they fail.”
Before he joined South Forsyth High School in 2008, Crowder taught at Forsyth Central High School and Vickery Creek Middle School.
“It’s a joy to go to work every day and work with the young people that I have the privilege to interact with,” he said.
Crowder also teaches foundations of engineering, engineering concepts and design technology at South Forsyth.
“I remember in my own educational experiences, too many of my classes had only one acceptable solution to a problem,” Crowder said. “But, reality in our country is not that way at all. Edison, the Wright Brothers and Steve Jobs are examples demonstrating how it takes expecting, accepting and embracing the failure to succeed.
“Failure is an excellent teacher,” Crowder said. “I want to find that kid who is having a hard time and needs a word of encouragement, but also a word of discipline, that they need to know that I care enough about them to say, ‘hey, you’re late for class, I want you to be on time, I miss you when you’re not here.’”
The annual event also recognizes the county’s Partners in Education. There are 900 active partners working with 36 Forsyth County schools and various departments. Each school in the county selected their teacher of the year and the three finalists were chosen — Crowder, Liz Watterson from South Forsyth Middle and Courtney Stokes from Big Creek Elementary.
“I truly work incredibly hard, and ask my children, they know when they are sleeping in their beds, I’m wide awake working,” said Stokes in a video presented at the ceremony. “I nurture them the best I can.”
Last school year, partners gave about $1.6 million in funding to schools as well as volunteer hours and in-kind services.
The ceremony was also an opportunity to honor those who have helped schools in the county achieve excellence. The 2013 mentor of the year award — Robert Scott, who volunteers at the Gateway alternative learning program. The 2013 friend of the year award — Jack Schiff of Rewarding Minds, who has donated 37 laptops, printers and accessories to students at North Forsyth High School, Central High and West Forsyth High.
The Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce helped put the event together. Among the sponsors were Northside Hospital-Forsyth, Georgia Power and Publix Supermarkets.
“It is a pleasure for us to recognize and honor these outstanding community businesses, partners and volunteers,” said L.C. “Buster” Evans, superintendent of Forsyth County School district. “It is because of the commitment from each of you that our young people are afforded the best opportunities to succeed, not only as students, but as productive citizens.”