Opinion: Favorite Teachers of One Saint Paul’s Junior

“Do your part to help build up the Kingdom of God in the hearts of your students.”

This quote from Saint John Baptiste De La Salle explains the role of a Lasallian teacher. On top of teaching the necessary curriculum to students, educators must deepen the Catholic faith in each pupil.

Saint Paul’s has done an excellent job of garnering teachers that fulfill the expectations set by the example De La Salle left for them. However, some teachers go beyond these expectations. After looking back on my time at Saint Paul’s thus far, I have ranked my five favorite teachers as followed (in no particular order):

Mrs. Gardner – AP Language

Even though I have only been in her class for one quarter, I can say with certainty that Mrs. Gardner is one of the best teachers I have ever had.

Rather than merely doing her job, she transcends all expectations and creates one of the best classroom atmospheres in the school. Mrs. Gardner truly cares about her students, and it shows. She wants her students to do well and will help those struggling with anything they may need.

One of her best practices is her wanting to share her love of literature with her students. Every class, she offers the students ten minutes to read whatever they please. This fosters the students’ reading stamina, which can lead to higher performance on standardized tests.

In short, I genuinely enjoy being in Mrs. Gardner’s class and cannot wait for the remainder of the year.

Coach Barwick – Religion III.

If someone were to ask any Saint Paul’s junior or senior his favorite teachers, there is a strong chance that he would name Coach Barwick.

Coach Barwick lives out the Saint Paul’s mission statement every day; he encourages morality and academic determination in a safe and disciplined environment while instilling the Gospel values of Jesus into his students.

Furthermore, he keeps one value close to his heart: respect. Coach Barwick has abounding respect for his students and the school. He makes it a point to refer to every student as Mr. followed by his last name. He is an incredible role model of what a great man should be. His leading by example causes his students to emulate his character.

Because of the aforementioned examples, his classes are some of the most disciplined groups I have ever seen.

On top of keeping a courteous demeanor, he focuses his class on creating strong men in not only their faith but also in their ability to care and express themselves. For example, he started out the year discussing addiction and had his classes present on various addictions. Moreover, he went into detail about mental health and expressing one’s feelings, something I advocate for as well.

I strongly look up to Mr. Barwick and really enjoy his class.

Coach Moore – World History Honors

Benevolence, righteousness, reverence, wisdom, and trustworthiness – these are Confucius’s five human virtues that Coach Moore not only teaches but also exemplifies.

Initially, I was enrolled in AP World History; however, upon hearing this, my brother, a Saint Paul’s alumnus, Blaine Cooney, encouraged me to drop AP World History as soon as possible in favor of World History Honors. Blaine told me multitudinous stories of his time in Coach Moore’s class, all while giving prolific praise for him. Moved by my brother’s testimony, I requested a schedule change and was transferred to Coach Moore’s class.

I can safely say this decision was one of the best of my high school career. Coach Moore’s class goes beyond teaching World History; he makes transforming sophomore boys into men his personal goal. From Reinassance painters to how to be a better man, I learned so much from Coach Moore.

Dr. Ford – Biology Honors

Many students may see this as a controversial opinion because his class is very challenging, and I agree. However, that doesn’t change my thoughts on Dr. Ford. I recognize the sheer difficulty of his class, but this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. It required us to do something we hadn’t had to do very much in previous years due to Covid: try their hardest.

Within the first few weeks, it became obvious to our class that coasting through Biology Honors was not possible. Dr. Ford’s teaching method can loosely be compared to that of a professor. He focuses on lecturing from a slideshow and allowing the students the option to take notes or only listen.

*For anyone in one of his classes now, here’s some friendly advice: take notes on additional information he says that is not shown on the slides because he posts the slideshow, and you will miss out on what he’s talking about if you write everything down.*

The way Dr. Ford teaches forced us to try new methods of studying and note-taking. This also prepares us for what will come in college.

Along with all the aforementioned, Dr. Ford is just a really funny and charismatic teacher. He always kept everything interesting by mixing videos and activities into his lessons.

So, besides his tests which were on the brink of impossibility, I loved his class and always enjoyed going to it.

Mr. Dickens – English II Honors

While the previous teachers were all close contenders, Mr. Dickens isn’t even in the same division.

If someone asked me my top three favorite teachers, I would have difficulty narrowing the second and third spots, but I wouldn’t even have to think about number one; it would be Mr. Dickens.

Similarly to Coach Moore’s class, I was, initially, to be in another teacher’s English II Honors class, but my brother persuaded me to have my schedule changed so I could be in Mr. Dickens’s class. I can’t begin to express how crucial this decision was, but I will try by noting some of my favorite characteristics of Mr. Dickens and his class.

Firstly, I learned more from his English class than I have in any other in my life. One of Mr. Dickens’s main points is grammar, from which I have benefitted greatly. Every class, we would go over grammar rules and complete practice work on whatever rule we learned that day. The grammar we learned has stuck with me along with assisting me in winning the State Literary Rally for English II.

Additionally, Mr. Dickens spent the majority of the year on literature. Half of the year, we focused on novels regarding World Wars I and II, and, especially, the Holocaust. He could have chosen books that string together boring facts and put a reader to sleep before he finishes the first page, but he chose enthralling books that kept me wanting to read more with my favorite being The Day of the Jackal.

Furthermore, Mr. Dickens gives out one of the most coveted compliments: the title of Bad Dude. Whenever a student gets a 100 on a test or answers a difficult question, Mr. Dickens calls him a Bad Dude. I was fortunate enough to receive this honor multiple times.

One of my favorite parts of his class, and one of the funniest, is when he would randomly yell. After teaching a lesson, he would give us a few minutes to complete practice questions. Once the minutes were up, he would yell at the top of his lungs to let us know. I sat in the back, where he would frequently do it from, so I was always startled by this. It would always make me laugh.

Above all, Mr. Dickens cares a great deal about his students. Whenever I was going through a tough time, he would always make a point to check in with me and see how I was doing. This greatly impacted me and will stick with me for years to come.


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