To be able to give him the Teacher of the Year Award was special for me because he worked so hard with my grandson. He is an awesome teacher and I couldn’t ask for a better one. He really goes above and beyond with the kids.Patsie Newman, Springfield Huddle House general manager
SPRINGFIELD — Ebenezer Elementary School teacher Jason Pridgen’s healthy morning appetite is being rewarded by the healthy appreciation others have for him.
Pridgen was recently named Springfield Huddle House’s Teacher of the Year by the restaurant’s customers. As a reward, he will receive one free Huddle House meal per week.
“It was very humbling,” Pridgen said.
Springfield Huddle House enticed customers to vote by distributing cards for free and discounted meals at Springfield Elementary School, Ebenezer Elementary School, Ebenezer Middle School, Effingham County Middle School and Effingham County High School. Elementary school students received cards for free meals at their school’s year-ending awards ceremony.
“And then what we did was set up a box (in the restaurant) where people could write their favorite teacher’s name and school down and put it in,” Newman said. “At the end of Teacher Appreciation Week (May 6-10), I tallied all the votes and that’s how I ended up presenting the award to Mr. Pridgen.”
Newman wasn’t surprised by Pridgen’s victory.
“He was my grandson’s (Hayden Purvis) fifth-grade teacher this year so it was very exciting that he won,” she said. “To be able to give him the Teacher of the Year Award was really special for me because he has worked so hard with my grandson. He is an awesome teacher and I couldn’t ask for a better one.
“He really goes above and beyond with the kids.”
Newman offered evidence of Pridgen’s commitment.
“He will call and check on Hayden in the summertime when he has no legal obligation to do it. He checks on his kids,” she said. “He really deserves to be recognized for that.”
Pridgen, who teaches math and science, is grateful that his efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. He has spent all 14 years of his career at Ebenezer Elementary School.
“I try to do as much as possible for my students — whether it be at home or school,” he said. “I’m a firm believer that — before a kid will listen to you — you have to let them know that you care about them first.”
Pridgen is a regular Huddle House customer in Springfield and Rincon. He meets with a prayer group at the Rincon store.
“If I’m in Effingham County, I’m at Huddle House whether it’s the summertime or not,” he said.
Pridgen’s prayer group has met at Huddle House for four years.
“You build relationships with the regulars who are in there every Tuesday,” he said. “And with the staff, I’ve seen a lady, bless her heart, who had cancer and didn’t make it. If it wasn’t for Huddle House, our paths never would have crossed.”
Newman wishes more people shared Pridgen’s devotion to others.
“If everybody in our community would do more to show appreciation for everybody, it would make for such a better life,” she said