For New Teacher, Ryder Cullison, It’s All About Listening


Tanysha Sanchez Ramirez

Ryder Cullison GHS English Teacher

Tanysha Sanchez Ramirez, Staff Reporter

Mr. Cullison, also known as Mr. C and Mr. Clean, due to his uncanny resemblance to the Proctor & Gamble detergent character, is an English teacher at Gloucester High School. He went to Matthews High School and went to college at Radford University. Having started his career at Gloucester in the 2020/2021 school year, Mr. Cullison was in a weird predicament for being a first-time teacher during the COVID-19 restrictions in the school. However, he didn’t let that stop him from doing his job efficiently while providing aid and guidance in and out of the classroom to all his students and former students. Unlike most teachers who majored in education, Cullison is a career switcher, which refers to someone who took a different path from the career they initially chose.

Before getting his teaching license, Mr. Cullison was always teaching people, and he said he wanted to become a teacher because of his experience with kids. ¨I taught Sunday school for ten years, so I grew to enjoy working with children. I also coached a little league for a few years.¨ Right before COVID hit, his company lost funding, so Cullison thought it was a good time to get his teaching license. ¨Teaching is a recession-proof job, so I will still be employed if the economy goes under.¨ Although many would say he belongs at Gloucester, Cullison did not initially go to GHS. He originally went to Matthews for his high school years. He said he picked Gloucester High over Matthews because it is a bigger school. ¨Mathews is maybe one-fifth of what Gloucester is. They have four English teachers total, one for each grade level.¨

Cullison is fantastic around students, not only because of his experience in little league and Sunday School but also because of his family. Cullison said he was not in the right frame of mind to work with children until after he got married and had children of his own. “I wanted nothing to do with high school after I graduated.¨ He also believed that he was not in the right frame of mind to work with children until he got married and had my children.¨ Some students will talk about how Cullison is a constructive person when it comes to telling them about their life problems. He believes this is because he is non-judgemental. ¨I’m not here to shame anybody, and I don’t enforce petty rules.¨ He doesn’t believe it is necessary to tell people to take off their hats and hoods constantly; ¨I don’t get a power trip over that.¨ He believes patience has been the key to making so many students trust him with issues in their life. ¨ People like to vent and tell me about things in their life, and I won’t think any less of them.¨ Last year, Cullison had a student come in and stand in front of his desk and rant to him about their issue; when they finished, they said, ‘Thank You, Mr. Cullison,’ and he said he didn’t do anything. ¨All they wanted was to unload what was going on to someone that would listen and engage them.¨ 

Most people know Cullison as an incredibly flexible teacher, the kind you could hand assignments at the end of the grading point, and he would not deduct points. In the 21-22 school year, he had a first-year class. At this time,  the school was extremely strict with mask regulations and other safety measures with COVID, so they didn’t enforce many of the rules presented today, like hats, hoods, phones, and earbuds. In his class, people say. It felt more relaxed than in others. All he wanted to do was teach English. However, some students took advantage of that, feeling like they could get away with anything in his class. ¨Well, a lot of it was just my ignorance.¨  Cullison didn’t think students were foolish enough to do those things in his class, so he didn’t look for it. ¨I know better now¨. Generally speaking, the class that gave him the most trouble when he started was his first-year students. People learn through their experiences and often mellow out as they progress through the grades. ¨Right now, I love my seniors.¨ He said this because they can come in, sit down, and have a normal conversation without shouting across the room. ¨Once, I had a freshman stick something in the outlet next to him.¨

Although Cullison has faced many challenges in his two years of teaching at Gloucester High, with COVID-19, troublesome students, and other administration issues, he has left a lasting impact on many students. He believes the students have done the same for him over the years. ¨I have certainly learned a lot from them and adapted my personality when teaching to relate to students and their interests.¨ He does this to be more relatable to his students so that they know they can trust him and be themselves around him.