DERRY — Pinkerton Academy social studies teacher Joseph Lee hasn’t been teaching that long, but he’s certainly made a big impact on his students.
The six-year teacher also has impressed people outside the classroom.
Lee, 29, was named the 2013 New Hampshire Teacher of the Year by the state Department of Education. He was surprised with the award Friday before 3,000 students at Pinkerton’s fall pep rally.
He was one of 36 teachers in the state nominated for the award and is now a candidate for the National Teacher of the Year award.
He continues to be humbled by the honor.
“Many students congratulated me,” Lee said. “I am overwhelmed. Surreal, honored, humbled, also come to mind with excitement trumping all.”
Lee has been teaching for six years, all of them at Pinkerton. He said coming to the classroom every day and making a difference make the job extremely satisfying.
“I’m sure countless teachers could agree that teaching is, and will always remain, a truly rewarding occupation,” he said. “Knowing that what I do to the best of my ability can positively affect a student’s life motivates me to continue to grow as an educator. I never want to stagnate.”
Lee’s students say it’s easy to learn in social studies class.
“He doesn’t always act like a teacher,” 14-year-old freshman Sarah Rickershause said. “He brings a lot of fun.”
Another freshman, Derek Wilson, called his teacher “brilliant.”
“He teaches things and ties it in with real world things,” Wilson said.
Lee was nominated for the award in February by Beverly Lannan, Pinkerton’s Dean of Faculty.
He then received an application in the mail and wrote a few essays about his style of teaching.
“A teacher is a leader,” he wrote. “A teacher must recognize the unique characteristics and strengths of each student, and work to hone their strengths and overcome their challenges.”