CENTENNIAL HIGH SCHOOL- It is no secret that teachers do a lot for their students here at Centennial High School. Centennial is so blessed and truly appreciative to have so many teachers that truly care about the wellbeing of their students. And every year, as a school, we get to show this appreciation through the Teacher of the Year award.
Teacher of the Year is a Frisco ISD tradition in which teachers at the school nominate and vote for one of their peers who they believe embodies the qualities which make a great teacher. This year’s campus winner is Cody Chamberlain, who has been a teacher for 14 years, seven of those years at Centennial, and currently teaches both English I and GT American Studies at Centennial.
“I think especially in a year that was this difficult, my first reaction is very humbled by [the Teacher of the Year award] because all the people who I work with here, I value what they do and what they bring to Centennial so much that when I first got here one of my favorite things about this place was that there were so many good teachers that it was constantly a good challenge to try to be as good as them,” Mr. Chamberlain explains. “So to get that feedback from them that they see me the same way was very affirming in a way.”
As much as Mr.Chamberlain appreciates the honor of Teacher of the Year, he also recalls his journey as an English teacher, starting at the very beginning, when he was still in college.
“When I fell in love with literature in my Sophomore year at college, I kind of asked myself why I didn’t fall in love with literature sooner, especially in highschool,” Mr. Chamberlain recounts. “And I’d say for a healthy majority of my highschool life I just had English teachers who would press play on a cassette tape, say ‘answer questions one through ten for homework’, and there was never really any interaction with the text.”
Although Mr. Chamberlain had this type of experience in highschool, this lack of engagement from his teachers actually turned out to be one of the biggest reasons he chose to become a teacher later on.
“I basically told myself, well, I think I could do more. I think even if I’m not better than those teachers I could at least show that I care more about the literature than they did and a greater appreciation for it,” Mr. Chamberlain explains.
Teaching brings a lot of learning along with it, something which Mr. Chamberlain believes is one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching.
“The best part is the ability to constantly learn from other students. It’s amazing to me the lessons that I’m able to get from a different group of kids every year. To always be taking that in as sort of a sponge is always good,” he reveals.
Mr. Chamberlain also believes that what makes a “good teacher” goes farther than just what is written in the syllabus.
“I think someone that makes a good teacher is one that can constantly understand or at least empathize with his or her students,” he describes. “I think the last two years have revealed that the most, that it can’t just be about the content, and it can’t just be about the lesson or the TEKS. You’ve got to have an understanding of where your kids are emotionally, mentally, far before you think about where they are academically.”