TEACHER TUESDAY BLOG
"The ESD teachers are so welcoming and open to helping you. They want you to succeed."
- a member of the Class of 2017
Check back each week for a new post!
What motivated and inspired you to teach? Growing up, I never knew what I wanted to be when I became an adult. Unfortunately, this extended to my college education, too, and I ended up just majoring in physics and theater because 1) I was good at those disciplines and 2) I enjoyed them. However, when I visited the Galapagos Islands when I was 20, I was informed that many of the efforts that were being put into place to protect the fragile environment of the archipelago were aimed at children because the adults were, in many ways, too old to adapt. When I heard this, something just clicked--if you want to see meaningful change in this world, focus on children. Students have the capacity to learn, to grow, and to make a better future--teaching them is the most impactful choice I could ever make.
What makes you excited to come to school every day? The community at ESD, the teachers, the staff, even the students, is so supportive that my job does not actually feel like "work." I already enjoyed teaching science to students; this environment pushed that even further.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I do not think I do an overly good job of getting this across simply because it is so antithetical to the stressful environment that many of my students find themselves in, but I want my students to learn that their value is in no way determined by their performance. Yes, good grades are nice, but a willingness to work and a desire to learn are, in my opinion, way more valuable. I can teach students physics (slowly, but surely). I cannot necessarily teach them perseverance or intellectual curiosity--that is something that they often need to bring to the table themselves.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I practiced martial arts for most of my life (starting back in the first grade). Over the years that includes karate, tae kwon do, Brazilian jujitsu, kuk sool won, and kickboxing. I actually practiced mixed martial arts (MMA) for a few years when I was a bit younger as well.
Outside of the classroom, I watch a lot of movies and very much enjoy learning about the finer aspects of film, such as editing, cinematography, etc. My goal this year is to see at least one movie in the theater every week.
I watch baseball religiously and have been a lifelong Texas Rangers fan. Needless to say, I am used to having my hopes and dreams obliterated.
During my theatrical career, I acted in many different roles. While playing Hamlet in college was definitely the most prestigious role I ever had, my favorite part was playing Estragon in Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot."
What is your favorite book and why? This is an extremely hard question. So I am going to cheat and list a few: The Call of the Wild by Jack London; the idea of the "western frontier" has always held intrigue for me. That combined with Buck's perseverance and ability to adapt to desperate circumstances makes this an exciting, powerful read. The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut; Vonnegut may be my favorite author due to his odd humor, quirky style, and unrelenting devotion to irony. This was the first book of his I ever read and exemplifies everything I like about his writing. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell; this book was extremely emotionally affecting for me. An interesting premise and a heart-rending tragedy. (This book is definitely not appropriate for younger students.)
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? 1) My grandfather, who in many ways was the only extended family member that I was particularly close to. He passed away when I was a freshman in high school and I would have liked to have talked to him as an adult. 2) Stephen Colbert. I am a big fan and I just see him being very entertaining but also polite in a setting like that. 3) Albert Einstein. A bit cliche coming from a physics teacher, but he was such a unique and entertaining figure. A model of genius, but also a flawed man with many different passions and aspirations.
What motivated and inspired you to teach? During my freshman year of high school, I lost my favorite history teacher to diabetes related blindness. I was determined to someday try and fill his shoes.
What makes you excited to come to school every day? The students' willingness to work hard in small groups and find the answers on their own with my guidance.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I want them to learn more about an educated conscience and see that some issues are truly about right and wrong.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! After a lifetime as a football and basketball fan, I've become such a soccer fan that I'll skip an NCAA tournament game or an NFL playoff game for an FC Dallas soccer match.
What is your favorite book and why? The Lord of the Rings trilogy, since it teaches lessons about history and about the value of comrades on our way through life's struggles.
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? My kids, but they'd actually have to communicate over food.
What motivated and inspired you to teach? My father was a teacher, so I grew up in the educational environment. Music has always been a part of my life, and I feel that every person needs the arts in their lives. I had the desire to share that belief with young people.
What makes you excited to come to school every day? I'm excited to see the faces and feel the energy from the students. There is nothing else like it to motivate me to be better at what I do.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I want my students to have confidence in themselves and in what they can accomplish. If someone doesn't feel they can do something, they won't try.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I am a Broadway addict. I travel to NYC whenever I can and see as many shows as possible. My all-time favorite shows are Cabaret, Hairspray, and Westside Story (in alphabetical order).
What is your favorite book and why? I enjoy books by Dan Brown - The Da Vinci Code was my introduction to the author.
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? Johann Sebastian Bach, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Oprah Winfrey.
What motivated and inspired you to teach? I actually fell into teaching by accident. I was working on joining the academy for the officers at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport who become licensed state police and firefighters, but the opening was later then I could afford. I saw there was a want ad for an electronics instructor for Fort Worth ISD and I was an electronics warfare supervisor in the US Navy, so I applied. I figured I would just teach for one year and then go into the academy. This was an inner city school and was very rough. But while it was rough to start, after my third or fourth month, I could not imagine doing anything else.
What makes you excited to come to school every day? I have never been to a campus that, from the physical structure, landscaping, teaching philosophy, students, faculty, and administration, is as harmonious as ESD. Our campus makes me feel like anything is possible and that the best part of my teaching career and my students' accomplishments are still ahead of me.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I have a philosophy that basically says, "Professionalism is not what you do when it is easy. Professionalism is what you do when it is hard." Bottom line, anyone can look good when life is easy. But, who you are as a person you will never know until things are hard. Also, I fully believe in dream big, then figure out all of the little things one must do in order to accomplish the big. For it is the little things that make the big things work. Believe that you can make difference, as long as you are willing to work for it. Know when to stand your ground no matter what anyone says and know when to compromise. Last, show compassion and mercy when you can.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I love the outdoors: hiking, swimming, stargazing, and anything else along those lines. I am also a sci-fi/fantasy geek, as well as loving Renaissance Faires. One time I was a traditional archer and a swordsman.
What is your favorite book and why? I have a series of books I like. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, anything from John Ringo, and historical books like Six Frigates and Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization.
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? For humor, Robin Williams; I would love to see how his mind worked. For personal courage, there was a 2nd Lt from an armored cav unit that stood guard over an Iraqi woman, who was shot by Iraqi soldiers during a battle. He protected her with his body till an armored ambulance came up and took her to a hospital. Last, would actually have to be a pair. Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass, and hear them talk about the issues they had.
What motivated and inspired you to teach? I used to make my sister play school with me for hours. I love sharing knowledge, exploring, and seeing faces light up. I like to make students think and feel the reward of figuring things out.
What makes you excited to come to school every day? I love relating science to real life and giving students confidence in science subjects. The students and faculty I work with make me excited to come to ESD every day. I love the special community and advisory we have to make connections with students at ESD.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? Anyone can do anything they put their mind to. Explore and search for answers and reasons - don't let curiosity fade.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I enjoy teaching piano, reading, spending time with my family, cooking, and traveling outside of school. I have lived in Dallas my whole life - same with my husband, whom I met in seventh grade. We are SMU fans.
What is your favorite book and why? I love Wonder. I just reread it with my daughter this summer. Live your dreams and be yourself no matter what people say or do to you.
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? I would say Mary (Jesus' Mother), Einstein, and my great great grandmother.
What motivated and inspired you to teach? I had wonderful math and science teachers in high school. They inspired me and got me involved with tutoring other students. Experiencing and sharing the "aha moment" with others; the joy, excitement, and self-confidence... well, words fall short when describing the way it makes my heart feel.
What makes you excited to come to school every day? I get to spend my day with the best students, colleagues, and friends anyone could ever wish for. I strive to mentor and pass on the wisdom and knowledge that so many of my former colleagues taught me.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I'll paraphrase what our Founder, The Canon Father Swann said year after year - "Every ESD student is a unique individual created in the image of a loving God. Each and every one of you is worth so much more than your G.P.A. or the result of some scoreboard."; If you can find your passion and the special calling that God has blessed you with, you'll never "work" a day in your life.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! Everyone knows that I bleed Dodger Blue. What I really enjoy doing outside of baseball is spending time with my wife watching the performing arts, spending time in the wilderness, and being with family.
What is your favorite book and why? Tough question, I'll list three. Men At Work by George Will because ball is complicated, and according to Red Barber, "baseball is dull to dull minds." Go Down Moses by William Faulkner because of my southern heritage and man's spiritual journey in the wilderness (getting back to the garden). Wilderness by Aldo Leopold. This book molded my personal wilderness ethic.
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? Mary, Troy, and Amy; my wife, my son, and my daughter. OHANA.
What motivated and inspired you to teach? Every teacher I've ever had -- either in my family or in the classrooms of my youth -- inspired me to teach. While I knew in my gut that I would be involved in some form of teaching, I was headed to law school after graduating from the Plan II Honors Program at UT, deliberately ignoring "the call." Yet the beauty of punctuation, the joy of reading, the power of writing, and my fundamental belief in the potential of others were siren songs all too strong to ignore and still motivate and inspire me to teach and learn every day.
What makes you excited to come to school every day? The mission statement informs my teaching and vision, guiding what I am called to do as an educator at ESD. This dedication to intellectual discovery, to igniting lives of purpose, to bringing out the potential and growth of all who learn here -- coupled with my love of students and colleagues and literature -- energize me to continue growing and learning in a place that cultivates such. Where else could I come to have such an awesome time with such amazing people?
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I want them to know that kindness and compassion matter; that they can conquer anything with a thirst for knowledge and a willingness to listen to others. I hope that one day, they will look at themselves and see what I see in them: pure potential that can transform the world in beautiful, novel, and meaningful ways.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I still keep in touch with my former teachers and former students; I consider them both family. I love sports--watching more than playing them, especially when my children are on the field or court. I enjoy reading books, playing with my dogs and other animals at home, building things with my hands, and spending time with my family (immediate and extended). I often get lost in my own wandering, wondering thoughts and worlds of possible ideas regularly. My favorite color is burnt orange--Hook 'em Horns!
What is your favorite book and why? I simply cannot live without books, without words, without pages and text and ideas and thoughts to nourish all aspects of who I am as an individual. Reading is my great escape, my source of inspiration, therapy, meditation, and knowledge. As I cannot have any one favorite child, I also cannot have any one favorite book; each one nourishes who I am and inspires me to become better in all aspects of my life.
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? Jane Eyre, Huckleberry Finn, and Scout Finch. Can you imagine how fun that would be?? I'd also make sure that my former dogs, Max and Scout, were there to celebrate with us.
What motivated and inspired you to teach? It has always been my dream (since high school), and seems to be where my gifts and passions converge.
What makes you excited to come to school every day? I love the opportunity to interact with the particular groups of students assigned to my classes. I love being with like-minded faculty colleagues. I love getting to teach mathematics, my subject of passion.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I would hope they see a model of grace in the way I treat and otherwise deal with them. I would hope they see me model the integration of my academic and intellectual life with my life as a serious follower of Jesus.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! I love playing 9 holes of golf, walking the 9 holes at least once/week. I love being with my 4 daughters and 12 grandchildren - eating out, vacationing together, and just hanging out together. I love UT Austin, my school for 2 degrees, and I love ESD athletics and fine arts activities. I love The Princess Bride, my all-time favorite movie and book. I love to read.
What is your favorite book and why? The Bible because it reveals Who God is by revealing Who Jesus is. And Crime and Punishment - a dark novel with a redemptive end.
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be? Jesus, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Watchman Nee
What motivated and inspired you to teach? I never planned to be a teacher. But when I wanted to change careers, some friends and family members suggested I look into teaching, so I did. I fell in love with teaching, and discovered my ability and passion for it.
What makes you excited to come to school every day? My students are fantastic in a lot of ways. They work hard, they're smart, and they're respectful. But most importantly, they show up every day curious and wanting to learn. That's what makes me excited to teach every day.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? There are two things that are essential to me, no matter what life my students pursue: 1) The world is full of amazing, interesting people, things, places, and cultures. If we want to live a good life, we can never stop exploring. 2) Every person, no matter who they are or what they've done, is deserving of respect and care. Treat people well.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! Anyone who knows me would know this already, but I love my wife, and I love traveling and eating with her. We try to eat something we've never had before every week, and try to cook something we've never cooked before every week. I love exploring the world's cuisines, especially the cuisines of Southeast Asia.
What is your favorite book and why? La sombra del viento by Carlos Ruíz Zafón will always be important to me. Growing up, I never enjoyed reading, and tried to avoid it at all costs. This book was the first real book that I enjoyed, and it got me into reading lots of other things.
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be and why? I'd love to have dinner with Chris Thile, who's an incredible musician and a very intellectual guy. I'd also eat with Anthony Bourdain, because there's no one in the world I would trust more to lead me to the right food in the right place for a super enjoyable dinner. And I'd love to have dinner with my wife. But just to be clear, I'm not sure if she would enjoy dinner with the other guys, so in my dream world, these are three separate dinners.
What motivated and inspired you to teach? The teachers that I had in middle school and high school who helped change my path in life are the reason that I am inspired to teach. It's not what they taught me about the subject matter in their class, but rather what they taught me about myself and how they inspired me to explore outside of my comfort zone. At that time, they believed in me more than I believed in myself and pushed me into spaces and areas of learning where I did not think I belonged or could succeed.
What makes you excited to come to school every day? In my role as a Physics teacher and Varsity Head Football Coach, I am blessed with opportunities to make a difference in the lives of our students; that is why I am excited to come to ESD every day. Every single day is filled with abundant opportunities to impact students, either in the classroom, lunch room, hallway, or on the athletic fields. The sense of purpose and gratification that results from positively impacting kids is addictive and every morning I wake up on a mission to find more opportunities to do just that.
What life lesson do you want your students to learn in your classroom? I want my students to learn that the only limits they have are the ones they place on themselves. Additionally, I want them to realize that they each own unique talents and qualities that make them special.
Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself! My favorite hobby is working on my ranch, raising cattle and bailing hay. My recipe for happiness is a pair of jeans, boots, and a tractor! I have raised registered Limousin cattle (French breed) and baled round hay bales for over 25 years and plan to continuing doing so after this teaching/coaching gig is up.
What is your favorite book and why? Who Moved My Cheese? by Dr. Spencer Johnson, which is about successfully dealing with change in your work and in life. This is a book that I first read during my time in the corporate world when Exxon and Mobil merged to form ExxonMobil. I have just kicked off my sixth year working here and as part of ESD's continued growth and ongoing improvement, I have experienced three Heads of School, three Heads of Upper School, and four Athletic Directors. As a result, this book has been a life saver and one that I refer to often!
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or not, who would they be and why? 1) My dad as he is still very much missed since his passing last year and I miss his advice on being a good husband, father, and coach. 2) My wife because we don't get to have dinner together very often due to the demands of being Varsity Head Football Coach. 3) African American folk hero, John Henry, as his story was of great inspiration to me growing up.
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