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Teacher Helps Students in Jeopardy

A Greenville teacher competing in this year's "Jeopardy" Teacher's Tournament has been making his mark on students in their own kind of jeopardy.

Michael Townes is a 33-year-old English teacher at West Greenville Middle School, an alternative school for students temporarily re-assigned from their base schools, usually for behavioral issues. Townes has been there less than a year, but is already making his mark.

"I hate to call it a rehabilitative program, but that's kind of what it is," says Townes. We try to instill discipline in [the students]. They're sent here after x number of referrals at other schools, and we try to get them on the right track so they will go back to their home schools and be successful."

One of those students is Rahja Louris. He's been in Townes' class for less than a month, but is already making a huge difference.

"He's started to prosper a lot because of the teacher he has," says Rahja's mother, Robin Shaw. "He's doing great with his reading, writes essays on his own, and enjoys coming to school. It's a true change for my son."

"He's doing a good job actually," says Townes of Rahja. "He's cognizant of why he came here in first place. He understands it's a fair second chance for him and frankly he's one of my better students. He's always attentive in class, pays a lot of attention to what I'm trying to say, picks up on concepts  quickly, and does what he's asked without having to be told. And that will be what translates most into future success. I'm hopeful for him because he seems like he's turning it around," says Townes.

Townes will compete Friday evening in the game show he's been a huge fan of since he was a kid.

"I have two children interested in the show," says Townes' mother, Suzanne. "They'll watch it and yell out answers from the sofa."

Regardless of what happens on the show, it's Townes' effect on the students he teaches that already makes him a winner.

After an exhilarating contest that saw Townes take a lead into Final Jeopardy, he narrowly lost to another competitor. Townes will still get the minimum cash prize for appearing in the Teacher's Tournament, and he says he's thankful for the entire experience.

"I've never been to L.A., it was my first time as a tourist there. The whole experience was kind of surreal. But it was definitely a lot of fun," says Townes.


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