“Love first, teach second” is the motto of this year’s LifeChanger of the Year grand prize winner. These four words have become a tenant that Eric Crouch lives by as he nurtures and shapes the lives of fifth grade students in his Columbus, Georgia school community.
Many of the students who attend Double Churches Elementary are there for a short period of time, often bouncing from one school and community to another as such is the life of a military family. The challenge lies in building deep and lasting connections with these kids who have often never settled in one location long enough to do so. Yet somehow Eric is able to do this, and he does this through showing his students love and compassion first, then focusing on the academics secondary.
And when it’s time for the academics, Eric has mastered that as well.
It’s this philosophy that his students learn by and apply in their schooling. Many of their projects are a refreshing balance of personal passion and service education.
Eric was moved to become an educator after his own struggles in school due to attention issues. As a result of his experiences, he made it his mission to engage his students and give each of them equal opportunity to discover their passions and use them as a vehicle for achievement. To that end, he uses a variety of methods to help his students’ enthusiasm take off, including a Project-Based Learning model in his classrooms that encourages innovation and creativity.
Earlier this Spring we surprised Eric during a school-wide assembly, sharing with him and the entire staff and student body that he had been selected as a grand prize finalist. It’s LifeChanger tradition for all five finalists to attend Conference of Champions where we announce the grand prize winner, however as we are all painfully aware, COVID-19 wreaked havoc on so many of our plans.
Our finalists, including Eric, have been waiting all summer to find out who the winner of the $10,000 grand prize is. And today, the wait is over.
In the parking lot of Double Churches Elementary, staff and administrators gathered to share the news with Eric. Also on site was ValuTeachers agent Taylor Morris who has supported many of the educators in this community with their retirement planning needs.