Veteran special needs teacher George Price, of Arbutus, interacts with a student at Maiden Choice School. Price has been chosen teacher of the year for Baltimore County Public Schools. (Phil Grout / September 4, 2013)

George Price has a long family history with Maiden Choice School on Shelbourne Road in Arbutus.

The lifelong Arbutus resident attended the public elementary school in the 1960s with his brother, and, after a brief stint in the business world, returned to the school in 1985 as an instructional assistant.

The school had changed since he had been a student there: Since 1981, it has only accepted students with severe physical, intellectual and behavioral disabilities.

The students at Maiden Choice range in age from 3 to 21. There are 18 teachers at the school, according to the school website, and each class usually has only six to eight students.

"It's all children with significant disabilities," said Nancy Briganti, the principal, of the student population.

Price — whose wife, Susan Price, and son, Steven Price, also work at the school — became a full-time teacher at Maiden Choice in 2000. Next month, he will be honored as Teacher of the Year by the Baltimore County Commission on Disabilities for his 13 years of work as a full-time teacher at the school.

"Some of our kids are extremely physically disabled," Briganti said, referencing students who are permanently wheelchair bound or unable to feed and clothe themselves. "He [Price] celebrates with them and involves them and finds out what will get them to participate.

"They're awake, they're alert, they're laughing at him, they're following his every move to see what he's doing next," she said.

Maiden Choice School is one of three public schools in Baltimore County — Ridge Ruxton School in Towson and Battle Monument School in Dundalk are the others — for students with severe disabilities. Each school has about 100 students.

Price said those schools, and the teachers who work there, are rarely considered for public recognition.

"I think the word I used was dumbfounded," Price said of his reaction to receiving the news. "I didn't know what to say. Nobody here had ever been recognized.

"We weren't aware that there was such a thing as Special Ed Teacher of the Year," he said. "We are so often overlooked in the county."

Price will be honored with about 15 other award winners at the Commission on Disabilities' annual Awards Ceremony and Luncheon on Oct. 16 at the Sheraton Baltimore North hotel on Dulaney Valley Road in Towson.

"He's a phenomenal teacher," Briganti said. "He willingly takes on challenges and does fabulous work with kids and families."

Price's humble mindset inspired fellow Maiden Choice teacher, Elizabeth Kartal, to nominate him for the award.

"He's highly adaptable," Kartal said. "He can get a new child, and really get down to the root of the problems and some of the things that are really positive in their life.

"He is excellent with children with behavior [problems]," she said. "He's a big lovable guy, but he can adopt that suit of, 'We're going to follow the rules.'

"But then, at the end, you'll get that wonderful warmness of Mr. George," Kartal said. 'Even though every single day presents a new challenge."

Briganti said Price sets a great example for her staff with his dedication to his students.

"He is truly an advocate for our students and their well being in and out of school," she said.