CHARLESTON, W.Va. — When history teacher Steve Sayre steps into the classroom this fall it will be his 36th year. For the last seven, he’s taught at Ripley High School in Jackson County but he’s not your average teacher. Sayre’s focus is on advanced placement classes.

“It has expanded from AP U.S. history. I restarted the (AP) World history program and then this past year started the AP European history,” explained Sayre.

He said after more than three and a half decades in the classroom, AP classes have given him a new purpose.

“I mean, it’s a breath of fresh air. It’s tremendous! I just wish I had been exposed to this when I was a young teacher. Teaching AP has really invigorated me,” Sayre said.

He said Ripley High may be a “rural” school but it offers 17 AP courses from history to English, science to math. Graduates who have taken AP classes have gone on to Harvard, won Presidential Scholarships from WVU and the Yeager Scholarship from Marshall.

Sayre said the principal and central office encourage the AP programs, paying for expensive text books and tuition to the West Virginia Center for Professional Development’s Advanced Placement Summer Institute which he’s attending this week at Capitol High School in Charleston. Sayre stressed money has not been a road block when it comes to providing AP classes.

He said his students are much more prepared for college than he was.

“I know that 40-years ago when I walked into my (first) college class, I was hit in the face with the difficulty of the class material and the expectations,” according to Sayre. “Students who take AP classes in the state of West Virginia now know what to expect!”

Sayre’s son will be attending WVU as a freshman this fall. He passed several AP classes at Ripley High School. That’s going to save him and his parents some major money because he received college credit. And while Sayre said passing the AP exams are important, it’s not his goal as an AP teacher.

“Even if they do no pass the national test they are so much better prepared because of the rigor of the course they take. When they go to college, they can walk in as freshman and sit down and be ready to do college level work,” explained Sayre.

But what if that student isn’t going to college? Sayre said AP classes prepare students for technical school and life in general.

“You are going to improve as a student. You are going to be able to write and think. Those are skills that can be used in anything in life!”

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  • Nolan

    After passing the AP World and AP European test, I am truly honored to have had Mr. Sayre to teach and prepare me for those tests. Mr. Sayre teaches in such a way that when the AP exam sits in front of you on testing day, the student can feel confident that they have received the knowledge and information needed to pass the test. Thank you Coach Sayre and Go Vikings!

  • Savannah

    I am so happy to see this article! I had the privilege of being a student in Mr. Sayre's class for two years. He became such a huge part of my high school career in a matter of weeks. His passion for teaching changed my perspective for learning. The only way to express my full gratitude for his classes is to carry what I learned with me as I chase after my dreams. It was truly a blessing to not only have had the opportunity to take his AP U.S. History course but also Ms. Kearn's AP English and Language course at Ripley High School. Both expanded my knowledge in ways I didn't know was possible, and I can proudly say they more than prepared me for college. I will be attending WVU this fall and starting my first year with 18 hours of college credit...all thanks to the amazing teachers I had at Ripley High. As a student, you do have to work hard to succeed, but having such inspiring figures who truly care about their students and go the extra mile in the classroom makes it so much easier. The AP program has potential to be something great, but is only phenomal with the right teachers. I could go on forever about how great my experience was in my AP classes, but my teachers deserve most of the credit for the greatness! Thank you, Mr. Sayre, for serving as such a tremendous inspiration to me and my peers.

  • Brandon

    I had Mr. Sayre for drivers ed one year. Not only did he do a great job teaching us driving skills but also was just a good mentor on life!! He taught me a lot about respect and what it means to have it. Congratulations on being recognized Mr. Sayre, you've earned it!!!

  • DeHart

    Mr. Sayre raised the bar on my daughter's education. It was hard and she struggled at first. He challenged her and encouraged her and she improved as a student overall. It was a known fact that with all of the offered AP classes at Ripley High School, if you could pass Mr. Sayre's APUSH, you could pass any of them. Thanks Coach!

  • Jenny

    I had the privilege of having Mr. Sayre for 3 social studies classes, including AP US History. He is such a great teacher and willingly had several months of review sessions after school, because he wanted to see his students succeed on the exam. I will be a college freshman this fall, and I feel like I have a better idea of what college classes will be like since I have taken several AP classes. No, I did not get college credit for every one I took, but I was able to expand my knowledge, test my study skills, and look at information in a different way. I know that this will give me quite an advantage, and I have Mr. Sayre and other great AP teachers at Ripley High to thank for this.

  • Kensey

    I had Mr. Sayre as a freshman in AP World History and then again for APUSH my junior year. He made me fall in love with the AP program and I went on to take 10 courses and earn 59 credit hours, making me a junior my first year of college. The AP program has broadened my horizons and made me much more well rounded. You get out of it what you put into it, the same as a college class. I know my class at WVUP did not prepare me for my rigorous courses this coming fall. Thankfully I had AP to prepare me. You spend hours and hours studying and working at the class, and because our tests are paid for by the BOE (thank you all so much!), we get free credit hours at many colleges across the nation. I think it's wonderful that the program is expanding in JCo.

  • A Devoted AP Teacher

    To concerned parent:
    Your school's AP teachers are obviously not preparing your students for the exam. Yes, taking collwge classes are a guaranteed pass, but some local colleges are a joke, and the students earn the credit, but are still not prepared for college. The AP teacher must attend trainings and know how to prepare students for success. Some students can make straight A's, but that means they work and study hard, but don't necessarily have the advanced skills to pass the test. They may memorize, but AP tests are more skills based than knowledge based. Most AP teachers , like Mr. Sayre, devote countless hours, weekends, hold numerous after -school and weekend review sessions to ensure that the students have a positive and successful AP experience.
    I'm sorry she had a negative experience with the AP classes, but please don't judge the AP program based on her experience!


    Great job, Coach Sayre! What a loss I feel for MHS and all our kids that might have learned no much from you. I still remember helping my boys with the countries in Africa although not the same now.

  • Brian

    I had Mr. Sayre in AP US History! He was such an excellent teacher, everyday, I looked forward to his class the most, simply because I knew I would learn many new things each and every day. He is truly an inspiration, and a high example of what an amazing teacher is.

  • HGoff

    My son had Mr. Sayre for more than one AP class and enjoyed everyone. He did not pass every test, but loved the classes. Thanks for being one of the best!

  • Concerned Parent

    Sorry. In my post I forgot a very important comment. I do congratulate Mr. Sayre's for his dedication to the Ripley HS students. No matter what my opinion is on the subject, you can only applaud him for his hard work bettering the students. All schools need teachers like this.

  • Concerned Parent

    I have to disagree with the importance of the AP classes. They will help students in some areas of learning, but they are way overrated. My child is in the Top Five in her school and took a couple of AP classes. She attempted to take the AP exam and failed miserably. She found out that not one classmate has actually passed the exam. Parents have to pay for the test to see if the students get college credits and most are not passable. Does it matter that my daughter has had striaght A's all through I suggest taking as many college credit courses and leave the AP's alone. There is no benefit that an AP class can offer that is better than taking college classes during HS. They will prepare students just the same as AP and if they pass the class they get the credits.

  • Sayre

    Sorry-son is going to Marshall!

  • Mike

    This is a great story. Positive, uplifting and refreshing. I'm sure that. Mr. Sayres passion has inspired many students. Congratulations to him for being committed to assisting our states young people by challenging them and preparing them for life.

  • Mason County Contrarian

    Well done, Mr. Sayer. Continued success.

    • Mason County Contrarian

      Sorry, typo: Sayre.