When he was in elementary school Peco Sanders wanted to be just like his dad, who worked in insurance.
In middle school, Sanders began tutoring – and realized he had a knack for teaching. He loved when a fellow student’s face would light up, when they “got it.”
“From middle school on I felt like teaching was it for me,” he said. “It’s just a neat experience to know that you had a hand in helping somebody learn something.”
Sanders, now 33, is at Eagle Nest Elementary, teaching the third grade gifted and talented program.
Sanders, a Summerville resident, has spent all 11 of his years teaching in Dorchester District Two. He has previously taught sixth grade science at Gregg Middle School and fourth grade at Eagle Nest. He has been teaching the third grade class for four years.
Sanders was born in Myrtle Beach and also lived in Rock Hill before moving to Summerville halfway through his eighth grade year. He attended Summerville High School and Charleston Southern University, where he majored in elementary education. He also has his masters in education from Southern Wesleyan University.
Sanders said his worst experience teaching occurred in his second year with the middle schoolers; he spent a large amount of time and energy preparing for a lesson, only for the lesson to not work.
“When you’re new at teaching you definitely get down on yourself,” he said. “I just felt like I failed them and I failed myself. It’s a learning process.”
His best experience came when he took on the gifted and talented students; he thought he’d set the bar high for the class, and realized within the first week that the students were exceeding his expectation.
“It absolutely blew my mind to see sometimes we sell these kids short and that they’re much more capable than what we give them credit for. These kids really can reach for the stars.”
Sanders is a Quiz Bowl coach and also co-teaches the Robotics Team. Last year he was the school’s Teacher of the Year. He currently serves as the school’s teacher liaison to the district, and three years ago he was the PTA Teacher of the Year. He serves as Team Leader for the third grade at Eagle Nest. Sanders has also helped coach the wrestling team at Gregg Middle School.
Sanders feels drawn to the elementary-level students because he likes the position of being a role model.
“I felt like, especially being a man in the elementary profession, there is not very many of us,” he said. “So many families come in here and might not have a father figure at home, and it’s just a great opportunity to be a role model for these kids.”
Outside of school Sanders likes to play softball, fish and spend time with his friends and family. He is also a youth pastor and enjoys working with his youth group.
Sanders also enjoys church mission trips, and has been to Gana, Ecuador and Peru multiple times for church work.
Sanders has a girlfriend of six months named Sam. He has a dog named Bo, who is 11 years old and is a German short-hair pointer that weighs in at 83 pounds. His life goal is to one day get married and have kids and continue mission work. His professional goal is to keep serving students.
“The more and more I teach, the more I want to stay in the field,” he said. “I love being with the kids. My goal would be to help these kids learn and have them reach their greatest potential.”