Becoming a Student of the World While Teaching
I am thoroughly excited to begin a journey to a different country where I can absorb a new culture, learn from a different style of education, and bring my unique skills to another community. Seven out of eight of my immediate relatives are teachers, and I have been teaching for six years, so education is a lifetime career and vibrant passion of mine; however, despite my experience, I know that I still have much to learn and am eager to begin a new chapter of my professional career. Personally, my wife and I spent three weeks in Japan this summer, which awakened in us a deep desire to live and work abroad (www.boydgossett.com/japan). During the next two to three years, while we are married without children, we want to travel outward, embrace all the opportunities we have to experience new communities, investigate raising children overseas, and enter into an international network of intelligent and passionate professionals working to build high educational standards for the next generation. I cannot imagine a better fit for me professionally or personally than travelling abroad to teach.
I have earned a reputation for being a hard worker who cares first and foremost about my students, their wellbeing, and their success. I am known for positive recognitions and am the go-to-guy when a schoolwide awards ceremony needs to be hosted. Specifically, my school uses me to read names at graduation, announce football games, host pep rallies, host honors nights, and write the school newsletter (www.boydgossett.com/newsletters). The reasons the school turns to me is that I have extensive theatre experience, diligently work to produce a good product that impresses parents, and believe that it is a fundamental part of a teacher’s job to celebrate students for their successes. I have designed several schoolwide award systems (www.boydgossett.com/pride-medallions), but my true value comes with my instructional planning. I have independently filled instructional gaps in my school’s 9th grade curriculum, including a textbook alignment plan, vocabulary plan, standards plan, assessment plan, and outside reading plan, all of which can be read under various tabs on my classroom website (www.boydgossett.com). I believe that the classroom is a sanctuary for intellectualism, discussion, teamwork, bravery, personal discovery, and above all, hard work, and I look forward to joining a team at an international school and continuing to foster student success.
One direct way I have found to encourage student success is by working with talented young writers who want to express their voices. My classroom has become a place for eager minds to gather and workshop their writings, and I am proud to have helped 32 of these artists feature their poems, short stories, plays, and artwork in our 228 page ROAR Literary Magazine (www.boydgossett.com/roar-2015). Through this work, my wife and I have learned that there is nothing like seeing a student’s eyes widen and horizons expand. I have taken student groups to poetry slams and art cinemas, and it is a surreal experience to see students fill with confidence and inspiration when they do something intellectually ambitious and off the beaten path. My mission statement is to bring as much of the artistic world as I can into the classroom, which is a reason why my classroom has become an afterschool art cinema for documentaries, foreign films, and ambitious movies (www.boydgossett.com/about-me). In six years, many students have come to me to start new clubs because of my excitement, enthusiasm, and willingness to commit to a project. I have been proud to spearhead different tasks, such as coaching four different groups at Odyssey of the Mind competitions and starting clubs for at-risk boys, but I am most excited about connecting students to the artistic world. For example, I partnered with a professional Atlanta theatre to give the students an opportunity to write 10 minute plays. A professional playwright visited our students across several weeks, and through the process, the students created nearly a dozen scripts. Then, as the ultimate experience, the students and I traveled for an evening at the theatre, where professional actors performed stage readings of the students’ plays, which inspired them and emboldened their dreams. Investing time and energy in students is the ultimate calling of a teacher, and student success, especially when creative, is the ultimate reward. I cannot wait to learn a new culture, view the creative possibilities abroad, and invest my time and energy in helping a new group of students thrive.
Even in the most difficult of circumstances, I find a way to create an educational environment that succeeds. For example, when I became the swim coach at an all African-American school, most had written off Westlake. The swim program had seven members, no uniforms, and only two afterschool meets, both of which featured four out of 24 possible events. In one year, I grew the team to 35 members, uniformed us in team suits, tripled our practice time, and scheduled ten weekend meets in more affluent parts of the state, where each meet was attended by 10 plus teams and featured 24 events. We came a long way in one year, especially the 18 boys who began the season not able to swim half a lap but ended the year swimming four laps and cutting their times in half. We even sent six more experienced swimmers to County Championships and one swimmer to State Championships. Despite all our obstacles, I believe that we have created a legacy for the community through hard work that will create a ripple effect for the next generation. My hope is that my swimmers will teach their eventual children what they have learned, and we can create a new generation of African-American competitive swimmers. Even over the course of four years, I have seen this ripple effect begin. In South Fulton County, two more schools have begun programs by using us as a model. Our team has grown to be the stable standard bearer of our community through the hard work of talented swimmers who inspire others, and I could not be prouder of them or more excited to bring my dedication and vision for success to whatever overseas opportunity that awaits me (www.westlakeswims.com).
To me, teaching is the height of living because it is a lifestyle that encourages me to invest energy, dreams, and hard work in other people. I can personally continue to read, explore, and learn while helping other people grow into their potentials. I have found success and fulfilment teaching in Atlanta and would now like to travel overseas, share my professional energies with a new community, and learn from the world. I am thrilled about the future, because I am ready for the opportunity to learn from a new culture and become a student of the world while teaching.
Samuel Boyd Gossett