Larry Bounds can light up a classroom and a stage.

Bounds is well known to the Upstate as a frequent scholar-performer in Greenville Chautauqua’s history programs, but his day job is teaching English at Wade Hampton High School in Greenville.

Bounds came to Greenville after teaching in private and inner-city schools in Tennessee. He started here with a reading skills program and then moved to AP English.

“I enjoy the kids no matter where they are,” he said. “I have fun at school every day. I enjoy it, and I always look forward to the next day in class.”

Before he was in the classroom, Bounds spent eight years as a professional magician, a skill his students enjoy each week.

“I bring a magic trick every Friday,” he said. “It’s not a specific reward. They don’t have to earn it.”

The end-of-the-week magic trick reinforces that school and learning can be fun.

“The reason it’s so much fun is that I really have fun learning,” he said. “I am constantly learning, especially for my honors and AP classes. I go into each lesson having fun with it and getting excited by it. It’s like getting applause on stage when you see them light up and you know they’ve got it.”

Bounds has performed as Ambrose Bierce, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill (who will make a return appearance in 2018), Wernher von Braun and more. Though he still loves the stage, he said his Wade Hampton students motivate his daily work.

“I have been blessed over these last 18 years with the pleasure of knowing some of the best and brightest and most caring people I’ve ever met,” he said.

Nomination excerpt:

“Larry cares so much about his students and his community that he annually performs in Chautauqua. His students learn so much about education being so much more than in a classroom. Many of his students say what a great influence he has been in their lives.”

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