We are always reminded of the sacrifices teachers make, such as lunch breaks and time off in the evening. But what about the things they gain? What can someone with say, 17 years of teaching experience like English teacher Dr. Brad Denton take away from his years of grading papers, giving lectures, developing curricula, and interacting with students? “I would say my greatest gains are those which are most magnified by human interaction -- the apostle Paul called them the ‘fruits of the spirit’: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. These are qualities I do not naturally possess, but qualities that are revealed through the relationships I enjoy on a daily basis.”
When asked what his biggest challenge in the classroom is, he responds that it’s him. “There is nothing easier to do when you get tired and your patience wears thin than to declare that the students of yesteryear were more polite, more engaged, more dedicated to learning . . . when in reality, the students haven’t changed so much as I have. I have to stop myself from getting old, cranky, and defensive. I’ll tell you, the students I have now are smarter, stronger, more passionate, more honest, and more desperate for genuine engagement than any generation that has come before. They will remake the world if we believe in them and give them the tools.”
Brad hasn’t always been an educator. He did a short stint as a managing bookseller for two stores, Barnes and Noble and Follett. He loves the time he spent in retail where, in addition to the welcomed challenge of managing the entire daily operation, he also had the joy of helping people discover new books. No matter the job, his goal has always been the same: to challenge, equip, and change all those he comes into contact with (including, ultimately, himself).