Brad Denton

"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."

High School | English and Creative Writing


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).  
 

Brad started at GAC as a long-term sub, but that quickly turned into a full-time role. For nearly two decades, he has taught every possible English class from 6th grade and up, and he has even taught a couple of non-English courses such as Bible and Spanish. “I didn’t expect to love teaching as much as I did. I love the student interaction and the nitty gritty of getting into kids’ lives”. He currently teaches 12th grade British Literature and Creative Writing.

Brad is proud to teach at GAC for many reasons. “GAC does an exceptional job with conscious innovation, the breadth of our student opportunities, and our commitment to service. We embrace constant innovation, whether it be our almost ten years in the one-to-one technology program we pioneered with Apple; our new whole-school STEAM curriculum; our elementary Environmental Learning Center; our senior college readiness writing curriculum; our data-driven athletic training classes; our classroom aesthetic and design upgrades; or any of the myriad of other innovations that we proudly embrace.”

But probably what he is most proud of is GAC’s commitment to service, both local and abroad. “We send mission teams over school breaks to some 12 countries and a number of states within the U.S.   Personally, I have grown closest to students when leading trips abroad in the mission field. I myself have served with students helping refugees in the Czech Republic, tutoring at-risk children in the Bronx, rebuilding a youth center in Florida, building homes for disaster relief in Guatemala, and working with orphaned children in Mexico.  There is no better opportunity for students than helping others in need, and I am proud to work for a school that recognizes this.”

 
In addition to teaching, Brad has served in a number of roles at GAC, including 17 years as Academic Team Head Coach. He has led the team to six state championships, but it’s not the wins that drive him. “I love team-building, so I took the kids to a ropes course one year.” He was also the senior class sponsor for five years and participated in the new teacher mentoring program.

While Brad recognizes that some things, such as his minor in Continental philosophy, will not be in demand, his desire to inspire student learning will always be needed. “I was so excited to go to college to learn  for learning’s sake.” But today’s students might be a little harder to convince. Brad’s enthusiasm for learning led him to not only obtain his Master of Arts Degree in English from Georgia Southern University but to also go on to pursue his Ph.D. in English from Georgia State University. His students might struggle to find the same euphoria in studying Canterbury Tales and Shakespeare’s plays as he did, but Brad certainly tries to ignite their interest. “For me, the purpose of my courses is to get students to understand the relevance of the material and to see that there is an intrinsic beauty at play that deserves to be heard for its own sake. I hope that students will come to understand that the pinnacle of human development and thought is the creative written expression. It’s a big hurdle to get them to see this. But it’s fun.”