The New Teacher This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 4, 2012
By
My junior year in American Studies was meant to be a joke. I was an honors student who had been denied entrance into the Honors American Studies program, due to my former teacher’s refusal to sign the form. This left me with only one other option: taking the normal level class.

As I entered the classroom that first day, I observed my new classmates. They were all the type of people who were proud to get D’s; you know the ones I’m talking about. I took my seat and began to dread the course. Then my new teacher walked in.

He was a 27-year-old, new teacher. I could tell he was new in how he eyed the class and how he nervously sorted the papers on his desk. I heard he was working on his master’s thesis. I imagined a room full of wild teenagers, never getting anything done, and a helpless young man frantically trying to make them pay attention. As an added incentive for my cynical viewpoint, I hated history with a passion. I saw it as a boring subject with stale facts about famous dead people. Then my new teacher spoke.

Benjamin Adams introduced himself while closing the classroom door, and then he took a seat on his desk. Literally, on his desk. This was already new for me to have a teacher sit down in anything other than a chair. He said he wanted to tell us about himself so we’d be familiar with each other. He declared that his goal was to be a teacher, but also to be our friend, too. He wanted to make the classroom a place where everyone felt equally respected, with everyone treated as young adults.

So, Mr. Adams told us about how he became a teacher. After high school and chasing his dream to become a rock legend – and failing, he joined the military and became a sergeant, ranger school graduate, and trained to be an airborne ranger. He still skydives. After receiving a history degree, he decided he’d have a bigger impact by teaching students about the country they live in. That is why he became a teacher.

This impressed the class. Here was a man who listened to the same music, liked the same hobbies, and chased his dreams. He was younger than most teachers, and was willing to admit the mistakes he had made in life.

Soon the learning began, and we took notes on history. I had never seen a teacher more passionate. He paced around the room, excitedly waving his arms and recalling the hidden tales of our heroes of yesteryear. He would come alive as he spoke about his love for the country and how great America was. His enthusiasm was contagious, and it inspired me to take on extra assignments just to learn history in my spare time! Even slacker students who hated school were excited to be shouting answers to his questions. They were actually taking pride in their work, and suddenly these students were getting good grades on tests. I was amazed.

He never gave up on those students who weren’t quick learners, and would willingly repeat information in different ways in order to help understand. The man never gave up, even when the rest of us were confused. His class felt effortless, and his teaching was exciting, inspiring and caused everyone to have a newfound national pride. His class inspired me to take AP American History, which I hadn’t planned to take.

Mr. Adams isn’t just the most inspired teacher I have ever known, but a true giver as well. Not only was he finishing his master’s thesis, but in his spare time he is the assistant coach for the varsity volleyball team, as well as the head coach of the junior varsity team. (By the way, both teams went undefeated and won the state title in his first year of coaching.) Also, in the little spare time he has left, Mr. Adams is one of the coaches of Salem’s spring track team.

He may not be the oldest teacher, or the most experienced, but to me he was the most inspirational teacher I have ever had. In my mind, he has already won the award.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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