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MCHS legendary teacher set to retire at end of year

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

John Price

John Price

John Price might be considered a man of habit.

He is known to go for a run, pack a sack lunch, wear a shirt and tie to work and be in a math classroom at Millington Central High School. But after 41 years of being a familiar face at MCHS, Price is stepping down from his calling.

“Like the old saying, ‘You’ll know when it’s time,’” Price said. “That realization has come upon me now. I think it’s my time to leave. Forty-one years is a long time to do anything. It’s time for me to step aside and let somebody give this a try.”

The North Kingston, Rhode Island native earned his chance to be Millington’s high-level math teacher in August of 1972 after stops at UT-Knoxville and Colgate University in New York.

Growing up as military child, Price traveled back and forth between the Memphis area and Maine. He graduated from Bartlett High School in 1966.

After earning his bachelor’s in Math and a minor in Physics at Tennessee, Price became certified to become a teacher at Colgate. With his family still living in the Raleigh area, Price returned to Shelby County and was hired at Millington.

For five decades Price was able to teach hundreds of students with some becoming business leaders, aldermen like Frankie Dakin and educators like Tanya Mabry.

“I’ve taught a lot of people in Millington,” Price said. “That’s one of the benefits of teaching, you get to see some of your students go on to be very successful. It’s great to see them out being successful. Makes you feel like you contributed a little bit to success. It’s mainly because of their own efforts, but maybe I taught them a little something along the way.”

With so many pupils passing through his classrooms the past 41 years, many students have joked that Mr. Price was already in the school when it was built.

“It’s not really true that I came with the school,” Price said jokingly. “But in 41 years, I’ve taught many of my students’ parents. I’ve taught a lot people in Millington and a lot of people know me. It makes you feel good in some ways that you may have contributed to the community.

“And you gave them some knowledge they might be able to use and the work ethic required in mathematics and taking the classes I teach,” he added. “What I tried to instill in them, it’s necessary to work hard if you’re going to be successful. The importance of hard work and striving for your goals.”

Price strived to be an example of hard work by showing up everyday. Price contributed his solid attendance record with his healthy lifestyle.

“I’ve missed very few days,” he noted. “I’ve only had three sick days in 41 years. Two were together, I had the flu back in the 70s. I had a virus the other time and took a day.

“I try to keep in shape,” Price added. “I’ve been a runner for more than 36 years. I try to do some type of running everyday. What also keeps you young is being around kids. They give you a young outlook on life. They’re young and energetic and I guess that helps me stay that way somewhat, keeping up with them.”

The students had to keep up with Price’s demands in classes like Algebra 2, Pre-Calculus and Calculus.

“My favorite part of the job for me was being in front of a class, instructing them and the give and take,” Price said. “I enjoyed the interaction with the students especially when they showed a spark about learning something.”

Between classes, Price worked on lesson plans and looked forward to his lunch. Some of his colleagues noted his trademark brown paper bag in the teacher’s lounge frig.

“I take an apple, sandwich and a Little Debbie snack,” Price said. “I make my own lunch the night before. It’s usually just a bologna sandwich or some kind of lunch meat or pimento cheese I can throw together. Then there’s my apple. I guess an apple a day is good for you. I have a sweet tooth, so I always want something sweet. I just throw it in a paper sack and into the refrigerator.”

Another Price trademark became his wardrobe. The instructor sported a button shirt, tie and slacks most days.

“When I started teaching the men wore shirts and ties, even the coaches,” Price recalled. “That’s how they dressed back in the 70s. So I just got in habit of doing it. I know the dress has gotten more causal over the years for the male teachers. But I’ve just got in a habit.”

Price would wear black and gold on Fridays to support the Trojans. Many residents say through his dedication to organizations like the National Honor Society as sponsor and in the classroom, Price has shown support for Millington the past 41 years by producing quality citizens.

Price said it has always been a team effort at Millington serving under seven principals from Joe Morton to Mark Neal.

“I’m always a Trojan,” he said. “I’m going to miss the kids. I’ve been blessed to teach some of the most wonderful students anyone has been able to teach for more than 41 years. The kids by and large are wonderful kids. The colleagues I’ve worked with have been wonderful people. I’ve enjoyed my association with them.

“We’ve had terrific administrators here all the principals and vice principals,” Price continued. “They’ve all been dedicated people who wanted to serve the school. I’ve been very impressed and grateful to work with my colleagues, administrators and other adults here. I think that’s why this school is as good of a school as it is.”

MCHS has been so good to Price, he met his wife of nearly 35 years, Judy, at the school. Price said the students have also made MCHS a great place to work for decades. And instructing the children became a habit that made him realize he was born to do it.

“I’ve been happy here for 41 years,” he concluded. “I consider what I do as a calling. I never wanted to do anything else. I always wanted to be a classroom teacher. This is what I always wanted to do. This is my life’s work, teaching math to students.”


  • Leo Percer

    Mr. Price was my math teacher until I graduated in 1978. He and many other educators made me want to be a teacher when I “grew up.” Ironically, my original major in college with math/English and I wanted to be a high school teacher. Now I teach graduate school (although not math) in Virginia! Thanks to Mr. Price for his wonderful influence in my life!

  • i remember you so well Mr Price. i went to high school there in the mid 70’s when u only had to get through school with a basic math class. i remember you being so kind & patient with me. the way you taught math helped me to understand what i was doing. i was blessed to have some great teachers back then. congratulations & i always wish you the very best. you were a very unique teacher & made me respect & appreciate you. i will always remember you. thank you for your many years of service!!

  • Kathy (Guetterman) Gentil

    Glad I got to see this article from friends who posted it on Facebook. Congratulations Mr Price! You certainly helped me in math in the 80s and properly prepared me to earn a BS in math and a MS in operations research. I was able to use that knowledge to do mathematical analysis in the Air Force. Thank you for your dedication to teaching!! I know MCHS will miss you! (MCHS 85)

  • Jarrod

    Mr. Price, you are a great teacher! Too bad I wasn’t such a good student!

    Jarrod Harris, MCHS Class of 1984

  • Doug Moore

    Mr. Price, I think of MCHS often. It had such an impact on me and what has become my lives work. I literally grew up in the halls of MCHS and when I think of MCHS,I think of so many great teachers that have been apart of that school. You are one of the pillars of that great school. I was in your home room class all four years and I remember how professional and caring you always were everyday with all of your students. Congratulation on your retirement. You have earned it through your unwavering dedication to children. Job well done. Sincerely.
    Douglas R. Moore
    Class of 1987

  • Don Peacock

    Congratulations on your retirement, Mr. Price. I definitely learned my love of math in your classes. Thank you for your selfless devotion to the students of MCHS. You will always be fondly remembered. Fair winds and following seas… Sincerely, Don Peacock, MCHS ’88

  • Beth Moore Valone

    Congratulations Mr. Price. I had you for homeroom and I remember that look on your face every morning when I was late. Like you, I loved school and seldom missed, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t tardy. You would patiently go get the absentee list and remove my name. I think by the end of the year, you just quit bothering to mark me absent. Thanks for your dedication to all of us.

    Beth Moore Valone
    Class of ’79

  • Dave Snee

    Congratulations Mr. Price! Your work ethic and dedication taught us all more than just math. I salute you and wish you well as you start the next chapter in life.
    Very Respectfully,
    CDR Dave Snee, USN
    (MCHS ’91)

  • Jeffrey Skonhovd

    Congratulations Mr. Price. I would have never gotten my Degrees in Computer and Electrical Engineering, and Mathematics without your AP Calculus class. Thank you for everything, I know I wasn’t the best student but struggling in that class was the best thing for me.

  • Brian Casson

    After nearly 30 years, only two teachers continue to stand out in my memory because of the impact they’ve had on my life. Mr. Price, you are one of them. You love math, you love teaching, and you’ve cared deeply for each of your students. I struggled to understand the philosophy of calculus, and you always said that one day it would all click. I’m happy to report that one day, midway through a college calculus course, it did click and suddenly everything made sense. You also played one of the cruelest tricks ever played with the bonus question on your calculus final…the one about wrapping a rope around the earth then adding a few feet to it. You gave us the question, but never the answer. So, Mr. Price, if you read this, will you finally give us the answer? I am grateful to have been a very small part of those 41 years.

    Brian Casson
    Class of 1986

  • Debra Williams Frantz

    Loved, loved, loved Mr. Price! He will be dearly missed I am sure. Congratulations to you, Mr. Price- and thank you for teaching me Algebra II and Physics several years ago. I remember the phrase, “You can do it this way, or you can do it this way… or this way…” All I wanted was one sure fire way to get that problem correct on the test. Thanks for helping to think “outside the box!”

  • Brandi mcgroom

    Mr. Price is a rare find in this world we need more teachers like him! Great man and great teacher !

  • Christie Irvin Cook

    I definitely did not appreciate what a gift Mr. Price’s teaching was until after high school. I once had a trig professor in my Junior year of college who asked me to stay after class to return my test with a high score and to let me know I was using methods to solve the problems that he had not yet introduced. Oops! (He was impressed and wanted to know more about my Math background. Mr. Price prepared us well!) I have enjoyed teaching Math over the years in West Africa, with middle schoolers in Louisiana as a classroom teacher and as a tutor in Massachusetts and NC. Now I am teaching my four little mathematicians at home as I homeschool. They all love Math and are eager to learn more!

    I hope Mr.Price enjoys a well-deserved retirement! Congratulations to him!

    Class of 1993

  • Hope you enjoy a wonderful retirement, Mr. Price!

    J’aime Wells, class of 1993

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