Educator of the Year

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Have you ever read the book, “Lies My Teacher Told Me” by James W. Lowen and then sat in a history class? You’re probably thinking that really those two things are complete opposite. Teachers teach from the textbook they are given with not much outside sources, but there is one teacher I remembered that told it flat as day.

Phillip Gissen was my middle school social studies teacher at Stone Bank Elementary. When you are starting your first day of middle school it’s a scary situation. New teachers, a bell every forty minutes, and a locker. But when you walk into your social studies class and you find an almost bald, short guy claiming he played college basketball for Georgetown University, all your worries go down the drain. Mr. Gissen was pushy, annoying, and had a great sense of humor. He was the one teacher that you could see having a life outside of the classroom. He was relatable.

I had him seventh period and every day I would look forward to going to his class because by seeing what glasses he was wearing that day, or what new nickname he had made for a student, or hearing about how him and the computer technician were fighting over technology because he was so 80s made Mr. Gissen more boisterous. As he went and traveled to all these different countries, he brought back information and stories that to your students made learning more retainable and fun.

The biggest thing about him though as a teacher was his dedication. He went from school to school giving the same advice of “memorizing doesn’t do you and good, learning does.” Mr. Gissen would go above and beyond for anyone who crossed his path.

Mr. Gissen, as liberal as he is, teaches what the textbooks do not. He takes learning into a whole new environment and leaves us with thought. He’s annoying, a pushover, and funny; but he has taught me what most high school teachers haven’t: how to live through history, because history does repeat itself.





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