Local educator, Wayne Gorry received "Teacher of the Year" at the 10th annual recognition program sponsored by Wal-Mart May 3.
Gorry is a fifth-grade teacher at Julia Randall Elementary School.
He's been in the Payson school system for 15 years, during which time he started the speech and debate program at Payson High School and taught at Frontier Elementary School.
Before coming to Payson he spent three years teaching high school classes in Chandler, Ariz.
Gorry said he was touched by the honor and by the supportive statements written by his students.
In the nomination process, Wal-Mart asked students to describe qualities and accomplishments that set their teacher apart from the others. They gave examples of how their teachers go above and beyond normal expectations.
JRE student Caleb Jackson wrote, "Mr. Gorry sets good examples for students and teachers. One example is playing games fairly in and out of school.
"He helps people when they are hurt or troubled. Another reason is that he tries to make school easy. If words are too hard he helps us find a not-so-hard book. That's why I'm choosing Mr. Gorry to be my teacher of the year!"
Travis Bix said he looks up to his fifth-grade teacher. Bix stated in his nomination that, "Not many 50-year-olds also ride bikes to school plus (he) races 67 miles and gets first place against pros."
Luke, another JRE student, has had Gorry as a teacher for three of his elementary school years. Luke gave his teacher the thumbs up for his storytelling ability.
He likes the way Gorry changes his voice to match the characters in the story.
Bix also thinks it is pretty cool to have a unique teacher who, "doesn't crash on you like a ton of bricks" when you get into trouble.
Students Kenneth, Carter and Shade all mentioned how Gorry makes Fridays special when students play Capture the Frisbee.
Gorry is known for his innovativeness. He just returned from a national math conference where learned about using special dice for teaching probability.
Gorry said he plans to add the dice and other manipulatives to the resources of his classroom and JRE.
Gorry is one of 70 teachers in Arizona honored for positively impacting young people's lives. He has received a $1,000 educational grant from the Wal-Mart and Sam's Club Foundation to benefit Julia Randall Elementary, a $50 shopping card to purchase supplies for his classroom and an honorary Wal-Mart greeter's vest.
Gorry said he will apply for state and national "Teacher of the Year" honors. Those honors come with additional educational grant money of $10,000 and $25,000 respectively.