Pender County teacher recognized for helping students master chemistry


HAMPSTEAD, NC (WWAY) — Some teens avoid taking chemistry in high school, but we found a Pender County teacher who has a knack for helping his students master this difficult course.

“The hardest part of chemistry is the math and some of the students are weak at that,” said Topsail High School Teacher Stephen Jeffcoat. “I try to put some real-world problems in and make some good analogies so that they can get a better understanding of it.”

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A North Carolina State graduate, Jeffcoat teaches tenth, eleventh, and twelfth-grade students at the school.

“Trying to make it as interesting as I can and as painless as possible is what I try to do but I don’t make it easy, if they struggle with something, I’m always available for tutoring,” he said.

By always, he means anytime of the day and night thanks to a series of YouTube videos he’s created.

“They can rewind it, play it over and over again until they understand how to solve it and how to solve the problems,” he said.

WWAY received more than 17 nominations for Jeffcoat and most highlighted his love for teaching.

“I’m passionate about what I teach, I really like chemistry and I think that shows, the kids say I get really excited when I’m working through problems, they can see that I enjoy it,” he said.

Before the school day starts, you’ll find him leading the electric vehicle club where students design small-scale electric vehicles and compete with other schools across North Carolina and Virginia. The walls in the garage area where students meet are lined with more than 180 trophies they’ve won.

“I’m smart but I’m not amazingly smart,” said Topsail High School Senior Andrew Lawson who takes a chemistry honors course with Jeffcoat.

When he graduates in May, Lawson wants to become an engineer and join the U.S. Air Force. That’s why he’s glad to have Jeffcoat as his teacher and mentor.

“He’s taught me everything,” Lawson said. “If I have a question I just have to ask. He doesn’t make you feel like you’re not smart, he sets you up for success, you just have to put in the work.”

Because of Jeffcoat’s devotion to his students, we are recognizing him as WWAY and Mattress & Furniture Liquidators’ Teacher of the Week.

“He’s an example of effective use of classroom time,” said Topsail High School Principal Chris Madden. “The kids are always engaged and it’s exciting to see because it’s not the most entertaining subject matter for some high school kids, but they’re always engaged and working.”

“High school students are just fun to be around,” Jeffcoat said. “I’m certainly not here for the pay. I’m not here because I like grading papers. I like working with the kids.”

Whether is under the hood of a car or during chemistry lab demonstration, Jeffcoat’s dedication to helping his students master difficult concepts is certainly worth recognition.

If you want to nominate a teacher who is making an impact in the classroom, click here. Each week’s winner receives a $100 Staples gift card.