History teacher John Lary stands out at C.E. Byrd High School by biking to school each day, sporting dress slacks and his signature bowtie, before carrying his bike upstairs to his second floor classroom. He is the kind of teacher who picks out the smart, but lazy, student and bluntly tells the student how much potential they have and that he will not let it go to waste. Lary, who teaches European and U.S. History, has a contagious love of history and teaching. Students can’t help but immerse themselves in the subject matter in his presence.
But he’s a tough teacher. As an adjunct professor at his alma mater, Louisiana Tech University, Lary knows all too well the demands of college classes and expects his students to perform at and beyond collegiate levels. Every course he offers at this time is dual enrollment for college credit and Advanced Placement, which presents not only rigor, but national standards for course framework.
Even with his high expectations, Lary has attracted a student following which began with 30 students in his first year taking the chance on his AP European History class to a program that is bursting at the seams with 198 students this year. He has been instrumental in pushing students to take AP exams, resulting in a nearly 500 percent increase in the number of students scoring a 3 or above. In 2011-12, 46 students took an AP test. The number increased to 289 during the 2013-14 school year.
At Byrd, he has revived and sponsors the Gayarre History Club. Each year, the club requests student essay submissions from high school-aged students throughout Caddo Public Schools. Submissions are judged by a group of students and teachers, with accepted proposals read at an annual conference and published in paperback for purchase on Amazon. Both are the brainchild of Lary and serve as one example of the numerous ways he goes above and beyond for his students.
Even outside the traditional classroom, he is not one to pass up on a teaching moment. When former President Jimmy Carter visited Shreveport last fall for a community event, Lary took his club to the evening event. As thousands packed into the city’s auditorium, Lary was front and center discussing Carter’s presidency and the scene it set for future presidents.
Prior to his work at Byrd, he built rural North Caddo Magnet School’s history dual enrollment program from the ground up and went on to become social studies department chair.
Lary received a Bachelor of Arts in history in 2005 and a Master of Arts in History of Culture and Ideas in 2007 from Louisiana Tech University.