BONIFAY - Graduation Assistance Program (GAP) instructor Barry Lee has been named as the “Amazing Teacher” for the month of November.

Lee, who worked as a child abuse investigator for 16 years, chose to give up his career with the state to teach 6th though 12th grades at GAP, which is traditionally considered the toughest teaching assignment in the county.

"It is a self-paced, non-traditional classroom setting," explained Lee, now in his third year at GAP. "Whether these students are at GAP for credit recovery or due to behavioral concerns, it is our goal to help give them that push toward graduation."

Barry's nomination letter highlights his heart for students who may simply need the additional system of support found at GAP.

"He wants to reach out to those who may not have a positive role model in their life," reads the letter. "[Through working at GAP], he has helped numerous kids get their credits to graduate that normally would have walked away due to a non-existent support system. He plays ball with the kids and gives them chance after chance to push themselves when other may have given up on them."

Lee says his ultimate goal - and teaching philosophy- lies within the success of students in reaching life goals.

"Not only are we trying to push them to graduate; we are trying to build character," he said. "I want to get these students to where they can graduate with their diploma and then go out and make something of themselves."

Teaching runs in the family for Lee, who received his degree in secondary education and social sciences from Troy State University in Troy, Alabama. In addition to two aunts in the education field, Lee's mother, Betty Urquhart, taught in Ponce de Leon for 34 years, and his brother, Bryan Lee, is Assistant Director at Florida Panhandle Technical College.

Lee says he is honored by the "amazing" nomination - but that it is the students and staff which allow him to succeed in his chosen field.

"I have been constantly amazed at how great these kids are," said Lee. "There is also an amazing team here and amazing staff. Principal Ron Dixon and the support staff truly care about these kids. We are all really proud of the successes the students have. We're really doing some good work here, and I wouldn't work here if I didn't believe in this program."

Lee was recently recognized by the Holmes County Times-Advertiser and Washington County News with the presentation of a certificate and a sponsor gift from presenter First Federal Bank.

Do you know an amazing Holmes or Washington County teacher? Nominate him or her to be named an “Amazing Teacher” by or