Cordova High science teacher details his hard path to success

By JENNIFER COHRON, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 8/18/17

Editor’s note: This is the second in a three-part series on Cordova High School’s faculty members.

Nicholas Sourvelis displays all of his diplomas in his science classroom at Cordova High School.

During a Monday morning assembly program …

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Cordova High science teacher details his hard path to success

Posted

Editor’s note: This is the second in a three-part series on Cordova High School’s faculty members.

Nicholas Sourvelis displays all of his diplomas in his science classroom at Cordova High School.

During a Monday morning assembly program that kicked off a “no-excuse year” at the school, Sourvelis shared how many obstacles he had to overcome to get an education.

“I think there is a perception that students have of their teachers. We dress professionally and talk professionally and we try to be professionals. You may think we had opportunities like scholarships that were going to pay for us to go through college and that we had both parents at home. That isn’t always the case, though,” Sourvelis said.

Sourvelis was raised in Detroit by a single mother. By the time he was 12, he had moved 10 times.

After school officials misdiagnosed him with a learning disability, he was placed in special education classes from the second through eighth grades.

However, a change in classrooms did not address his behavioral problems. Sourvelis told students that he was “a difficult child.”

“I can’t imagine being that second grade teacher and having 20 other students and one of me. There is no wonder that they made the decision to put me into a place that I would be a little easier to manage,” he said.

Unlike some of his peers, Sourvelis doesn’t have a heartwarming story about a teacher who changed his life. Instead, he attributed his achievements to a personal decision to rise above his circumstances.

“I am a teacher today because I want to see somebody else make that decision and overcome their circumstances despite how daunting they may be,’” he said.

Sourvelis eventually graduated from Walker High School, Bevill State Community College, Samford University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

He is currently pursuing a degree through the University of Alabama.

Echoing the theme of the 2017-2018 school year, Sourvelis told students that life circumstances are no excuse for giving up when teachers at CHS are waiting to help them reach their goals.

“What I know from my experience is you don’t have to be a product of your circumstances. If anything, your circumstances should mold you into the kind of person who is going to overcome that and break that generational curse,” Sourvelis said.

Principal Kathy Vintson invited three faculty members to speak at Monday’s assembly program to inspire students to excellence.

Vintson spent several minutes during the assembly deconstructing the vision statement the school has been using since 2011, “I Have the Opportunity and Potential to Excel.”

“As much as we can possibly provide with the resources we have, we are providing here at Cordova High School,” Vintson said, citing academic programs that encompass advanced placement courses as well as dual enrollment and career tech, boys and girls athletics and band. “We want every student to have every opportunity he or she can have to be successful.”

Vintson also reaffirmed her belief in the potential of more than 400 students seated in the auditorium while also acknowledging that success will look different for each student.

“Every single one of you have the opportunity and potential to excel at something. Now what’s holding us back? We made a big jump, and I felt like we were doing great. Now all of a sudden, we’re not improving like I know we have the potential to improve,” Vintson said.

The theme for the current school year is “If Janey can, I can,” inspired by a member of the senior class who is battling to overcome paralysis.

“I want to see if we can take a tragedy that has happened to someone in our school and that affects all of us and see if we can’t learn what it means to fight,” Vintson said.