“Knowing I am helping to build knowledgeable, well-read, empathetic, and tolerant citizens is not my job. It is my mission,” says teacher Dan Lloyd, who represents Sutton Middle School as this year’s Atlanta Public Schools Middle School Teacher of the Year.

Dan Lloyd of Sutton Middle School. (Special)

“Being named APS Middle School Teacher of the Year is the crowning achievement of my long career in public education,” Lloyd said. “I am honored and humbled my commitment to building children is recognized. There are so many deserving teachers across the district.”

Lloyd has been teaching at the public middle school in Buckhead for 11 years after spending most of his 25-year career at a high school in Clayton County and a few years in New York City.

“Whether teaching in Georgia or New York, I have learned one important thing about children — they need love and parameters,” Lloyd said. “Students want to know their voice matters and that they are valued as humans.”

Principal Gail Johnson said she believes Lloyd was chosen because “he represents all that is outstanding in our public school teachers.”

“Dan’s work represents dedication to the craft of great instruction, relentlessness in assuring all of his students are successful, care in understanding that relationships with adolescents are key in connecting them to learning, and pride in the mission and vision of Sutton Middle School,” Johnson said.

“Every day in Dan’s class there is student engagement, inspiration, respect for others and an understanding of the importance of education to allow all students the access to opportunities in the future endeavors.”

Q: What keeps you going year after year?

A: My students need me. Many carry burdens of poverty and broken homes, burdens much too heavy for even some adults; therefore, I help each of my students capitalize on their own strengths — whether that be reading, drawing, writing or speaking — with the chief goal of empowering each of them to believe in themselves. Some days I am forced to be their compliance officer, other days their counselor and every day their chief cheerleader. Regardless of my role, my students know I believe in each of them and hold each to a rigorous but attainable standard.

Q: Why did you decide to become an educator?

A: My third-grade teacher, Mrs. Herrin, inspired me to become a teacher. She opened my eyes to books, and numbers, and wonder. My peers and I would wallow at her feet in a sea of words, and songs, and creativity. Mrs. Herrin fostered in me a love of learning and a commitment to do my best each and every day, and now I continue to foster that same legacy in my own students.

Q: What are you most proud of in your career?

A: Though every day I am proud of my efforts to build articulate, literate, tolerant children who will one day become successful adults, there are a few moments that stand out. I have had a student win the National Do the Write Thing Writing Challenge, not once, but twice! Last year a student of mine won first in state in the Young Georgia Authors Competition. In 2017, every student I taught — all 125 — scored proficient or higher on the Georgia Milestones in English & Reading, and in 2018, every ESOL student in my push-in collaborative class scored proficient or higher on the Georgia Milestones.

Q: What do you hope students learn from you?

A: It is my ardent hope my students learn to believe in themselves and their abilities. They each have something to contribute, and I hope they will not be afraid to use their voice to promote positive change in the world.