Teacher Spotlight

Chloe Breau, Photographer

 Brian Mowry: Social Studies:

Q: What are your teaching strategies? 

A: “Give purpose, and then get out of the way. Let people have autonomy. Let kids figure out things on their own. Make them struggle.”

Q: How do you connect with your students? 

A: “Honesty. I think kids like honesty and respect honesty. I would say this — I try to put no pretense up. Just be honest.”

Q: How do you handle difficult students? 

A: “I’ve been here eight years now, and I can only think of like two kids who’ve been really difficult. How I deal with it? By giving autonomy. If a kid makes a decision, go, ‘OK, cool, man. There’s consequences to your decision, but that’s your choice.’ I don’t have problems because kids can respect that. They make the decisions they want to make.”

Q: What has been your best teaching moment so far? 

A: “Every summer, I go out to lunch with like four or five former students. They keep coming back and asking to meet. That’s the best part — kids want to come back and share what they’re doing, so I feel like then I’ve made a difference in some life to where they want to keep me updated.”

 

 John Holloway: Science

Q: What are your teaching strategies? 

A: “The most important teaching strategy is building connections with your students. I care about my students and their learning, and I need to show them that every class. There are lots of other strategies, but they aren’t effective if you aren’t engaging your students and being engaged by them.”

Q: How do you connect with your students? 

A: “I connect with students by letting them know about my life and trying to get to know theirs. I don’t want to be intrusive, but I want to encourage them in their activities or interests. I want each student to know that I am their fan, and I really do find them interesting.”

Q: How do you handle difficult students? 

A: “I have had difficult students, and I haven’t always done the best job in those situations. I think the best possible way to ‘deal’ with them is to find a personal connection or to take an interest in what they care about, whether it is an activity or a book or a game. Once you show them that you are interested in them and you respect them, it makes it more palatable for them to show you the same courtesy. You can find a connection to anyone if you want to.”

Q: What has been your best teaching moment so far? 

A: “I don’t have one best teaching moment. I have a million little moments where I made someone laugh or saw someone finally get something they had been struggling over or see a student really proud of a personal accomplishment. I’ve had a number of personal achievements and recognitions, but seeing my students succeed is the thing that keeps me coming back each day.”

 

Kelsey Bakalar: ELA, AVID

Q: What are your teaching 

strategies? 

A: “I’d say my general approach is to keep kids busy. As much variety and activity as I can do is important. Also, anything that is student-centered to me is more productive than anything that is teacher-centered. So, I like to come up with activities where [students] are working on stuff, and I’m not up in front of the room lecturing — unfortunately, except for grammar Tuesday.”

Q: How do you connect with your students? 

A: “I feel like teaching is kind of a calling. That’s what my mother always said. She said it’s like the priesthood — you just know. I had a great high school experience, and I just feel a connection to high-school age kids and people who work with them. It’s just a different world — when you’re in it, you’re just comfortable. It’s what you know.”

Q: How do you handle difficult students? 

A: “Probably one of the hardest things I’ve learned in being a teacher is that you can’t make everyone happy. I think that’s kind of true for life also. So, I just do the best I can, try to focus on the positive and just do my best to teach what I need to teach and then move past kids that I’ve struggled with.”

Q: What has been your best teaching moment so far? 

A:“Honestly, there are so many good moments. I think this year’s been really exciting because we got new textbooks, and I think a part of what I love about my job is that you never know what to expect. We never know when all the lights are going to go out or when kids are going to have a good day or kids are going to have a bad day. So now, with new textbooks, new curriculum, that just shakes it up even more. So, this year’s been exciting for that reason.”

 

Adam Wade: Mathematics

Q: What are your teaching strategies? 

A: “In AP Calculus AB, my primary teaching strategy is the flipped classroom. Students watch a lesson at home and take notes over the video and come to school to work on problems. I love this method because I can be present when students are actually doing their learning. You learn math by doing math, so being there and being able to catch mistakes while students are doing math is tremendously cool to me.”

Q: How do you connect with your students? 

A: “For me, the key to working with students is an atmosphere of high expectations and respect. I do like to joke with classes, and I do definitely have some sarcastic tendencies, but showing students that I want them to learn is truly key. Every new school year, I feel that if students know that I care about them and that I care about their learning, I’ll have a great year.”

Q: How do you handle difficult students? 

A: “I have had some really difficult students, and every single student needs to be handled differently. With really difficult students, the best approach is to collect as much information from other teachers as possible, so I know as much about that student as I can. From there, just having a plan to help that student is critical. Again, I think if the student has a positive relationship with the teacher, issues should be minimized.”

Q: What has been your best teaching moment so far? 

A: “There have been many spectacular moments in my teaching career that I’m really proud of. I love getting emails from college freshmen telling me my class prepared them greatly for college. I love getting notes and letters from students at the end of each semester describing how they feel I’ve helped them. I have enjoyed being the Scholars’ Bowl coach and winning four consecutive State championships. It’s been tremendously rewarding sponsoring Relay For Life for the last six years and watching our students at BVHS raise over a quarter of a million dollars for cancer research.”