Dan Sims - American Graduate Champion | American Graduate Champions | PBA30

Fulton County Teacher of Year: ‘The Hope Is In The School House’

   By Shelby Lin Erdman • December 1, 2015

Video produced by Gordon Ray

Tri-Cities High School Principal Dan Sims directs students through the hallways, urging them to hurry to their classes. It’s time for class to start and Mr. Sims keeps the young people moving like a mother duck leading her brood. He yells out “35 seconds,” as young people, some calling out a greeting, rush by.

“I started my career as a mathematics teacher. Taught for seven amazing years on the high school level and I’ve served as principal for the past five years,” Sims explained during an interview with PBA 30.

“At the end of the day, I believe everybody in this world wants to matter to somebody and at the core of a teacher’s involvement with the kid is his need to make sure that the kid knows that he or she matters to an adult in front of them,” he said.

The hope is in the school house and we hold a primary place in inspiring kids to look beyond this time frame

“It’s so critical for teachers to engage with students,” he added.

That philosophy and his approach to education is a big part of why Dan Sims was chosen Fulton County’s first-ever Teacher of the Year and a PBA American Graduate Champion.

Sims was selected from almost 100 others principals for the honor and Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa said it’s easy to see why.

“Anyone who meets Dan Sims, whether it be the first time or the 100th time, walks away feeling the same pride he feels for his school,” Avossa said in a Fulton County Schools press release.

But that’s not all.

“He is an inspirational, high energy leader who does whatever it takes to reach and teach students,” according to Avossa.

Tri-Cities High is located in East Point, where Sims grew up and attended the same school system from kindergarten through 12th grade. The native Georgian and Georgia State University graduate would not only remain close to home, but go on to lead a high school in his hometown.

Sims is not only concerned about his students, but about the community, too.


“A lot of people are losing hope. I think they’re losing hope because of their backgrounds, because of things they’ve seen on TV, unemployment rate, things along that line,” he said.

But Sims also believes there’s a solution to those problems and that it comes through education.

“The hope is in the school house and we hold a primary place in inspiring kids to look beyond this time frame and I’m just glad to be a part of it.”

PBA's Atlanta Champions


Scott Allen

"He is such a dedicated teacher who says that he is awed by his students’ creativity and original thought."


Mouhammed Bah

"I think education brings more wealth to being successful than any other thing in life."


Travis Brown

"He just does everything he can to insure that when a student comes in his class he’s removed all barriers so that they can truly learn."


Atia Butts

"You always want to have the mindset of succeeding and if you know the people around you are not going down that path then do your best to be nice, be cordial, but distance yourself from those".

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Kim Bearden

"No child should ever be allowed to be invisible in a classroom."

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Barry Blackmon

"I use a lot of different methods and try to mix my own type of gumbo within the classroom, such as discipline and humor."


Meria Carstarphen

"We really want parents to help us get children in school, on time, every single day and that starts with getting up and making sure they can get out of the house on time, into the bus or walking to school."

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Ron Clark

"We’re trying to lift the spirits of our students so they’ll be excited and they’ll be eager to learn."


Megan Gilroy

"Health can still be fun. It doesn’t have to be this drudgery exercise in this terrible thing."


Dave Howland

"Literally every single grade a kid gets in high school has an impact on their future trajectory. So making sure that that’s a big piece, helps them stay on track to graduate."


Kesha Payne

"Every decision you make, keep students first. I say communicate clearly with parents and administrators. I say collaborate effectively with your colleagues and keep students top of mind."


Immanuel Reed

"When I was a kid, being a part of a program like this helped me tremendously, and I think that me doing the same thing for others, giving them chances, giving them the opportunity to make the best decisions, it’s full circle for me."


Dan Sims

"The hope is in the school house and we hold a primary place in inspiring kids to look beyond this time frame."


Amber Stewart

"The success of a student hinges on the teacher that’s standing in front of that classroom and hinges on the school leader that’s running that school."


Darryl Terry

"As a student in one of the most impoverished areas of Atlanta, I’ve always known that education is going to be my only way out."


Stuart Thorn

"We’ve been able to take the graduation rate for this cohort of kids up from probably what would have been in the neighborhood of five to 15 percent up to now above 85 percent."


Dennis Tolliver

"He captures his students’ attention and they hold on to every word that he says because they know what he gives will truly benefit their lives."

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Jayongela Wilder

"There is nothing more rewarding then seeing a kid that you taught graduate from college."