‘Celebrate why we’re here learning’: Chester teacher of year focuses on life’s meaning

Pete Stone’s English class at Lewisville High School can often be found walking outside on nice days. It’s a way he gets his class to explore their self-expression and the question of life.

Stone describes English as a “study of stories.”

“I think stories give us, not the facts, but the feelings,” he said. “We’re humans, we’re full of passion and ideas. It’s about the expression of being and what it means to be alive.”

That’s why Stone left a life as a doctor to teach English and journalism.

“You can keep people alive but the bigger question is what are we staying alive for,” he said. “That’s the big poetic question of life I enjoy exploring.”

Stone, a Chester native and Chester High School graduate, was named the 2019 Chester County School District teacher of the year.

Stone, who is in his fifth year at Lewisville High, said the recognition reaffirms what he believes when it comes to teaching.

“It’s a huge honor,” Stone said. “I believe you have to focus on what you do best. I do believe in the process of how I teach, let’s not stress our students out. Let’s celebrate why we’re here learning.”

According to his students, Stone’s methods are working.

“He really boosts your confidence,” said 17-year-old Holly Nunnery, a senior at Lewisville High. “He works hard in his classes to make every student their best self.”

Stone said what he enjoyed most about the medical field was talking with patients. He felt compelled to go back to his true passion of education.

“Our greatest treasure in our country is us, humans, all of us. So what a great opportunity to be there and help someone recognize his or her own wonder and greatness,” he said.

Stone quit his job in medicine and took a job at Darlington High School before coming back to his Chester roots, according to the district.

“I had amazing teachers myself who inspired me, helped me discover what life was about. I wanted to share that blessing with others,” Stone said.

During the lunch period, Stone can be found making videos and movies with students who want to learn those skills. Stone once ran a production company that produced a local news show for TruVista Cable, according to the school district.

Lewisville High junior Chris Campbell, 16, said Stone deserves being teacher of the year.

“He inspires me to do movies and stuff and be a better person,” Campbell said.

Taking students outside is another way Stone said he gets students to express themselves.

“It’s a way to elevate the spirit to the highest form of expression and health,” he said. “I get great results from students by taking that break out there to poetically express why we’re here.”

Those results are reflected in recent state report cards.

Lewisville High School received an “Excellent” rating on the 2019 S.C. Report card. Academic achievement looks at the percent of students who scored a C or higher on end-of-course exams for English 1 and algebra 1, according to the report card.

Lewisville had a higher percentage of students score a C or higher than the school district and the state of South Carolina as a whole for both English and math, according to the report card.

Stone said Chester County’s administrators and staff have been a key to his success.

“I found a lot of support here to do things in a way that benefits the student,” Stone said. “I love coming to work every day. It’s a joy.”

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Amanda Harris covers issues related to children and families in York, Chester and Lancaster County for The Herald. Amanda works with local schools, parents and community members to address important topics such as school security, mental health and the opioid epidemic. She graduated from Winthrop University.
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