Columbia, SC (WLTX)- You take one step into Mr. Sarazen's 5th grade math class at H. B. Rhame Elementary, and you're in an active construction site.
"I have to have a lot of tools to get the job done," he laughed.
Numbers, decimals, and fractions are the blueprint of each lesson.
It's an all hands on deck approach with students working to become math masters.
"If no learning has occurred, then no teaching has taken place, and I take that very seriously," Sarazen added. "If my students don't learn, it's my fault. I take great responsibility in that."
It's that dedication that's earned Mr. Sarazen one of the highest teaching honors: the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science. Only two educators in each state were selected.
"I really represent all teachers that work hard at the profession and come to school each day and teach the kids," he added. "It's a great honor and I'm very humbled.
There is one essential building block for every lesson.
"I want kids to want to come to school. I think fun needs to be part of the curriculum," said Sarazen. "It gives me a lot of satisfaction to see them happy and to see them learn."
Students know when they walk in, it's not always going to be easy. All they have to do is remember four essential words: think until it hurts.
"It means when you have a hard time understanding something you just [have to] really think hard until you just get it," said 5th grader Eric Hildebrand.
Mr. Sarazen will be honored at the White House later this year.