Starting a new chapter in history

Former student teacher joins social studies team

On his first day as the new Pre-AP World History and World Geography teacher, Greg Anderson walked into the same classroom he had taught in numerous times before, but this time, it was different. This year, Anderson is the one in charge.

“The first class, on the first day, [was all] freshmen who were equally terrified as I was, so when I closed that door, it was dead silent,” Anderson said. “Everybody was scared. I was scared, they were scared, and I was just trying to create the illusion that I had done it a thousand times before.”

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Greg Anderson, the new pre-AP World Geography and World History teacher, lectures to his class. Photo by Maya Coplin.

Last year, Anderson was the student teacher of former Pre-AP World History teacher Bill Staples, and then he moved on to be a substitute teacher. With Staples’ retirement, Anderson took the opportunity to apply for the open position.

“I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to work at McCallum,” Anderson said. “When I was substituting, I worked at 16 schools in AISD from K-12, and without a doubt, this was my favorite place to be. I’m most familiar with the staff, who have been extraordinarily helpful, and I’ve never felt so welcome at a job before in the 14 years of employment. I am lucky to be here, and I know that every day I come here.”

However, he was offered a job that was more than he had originally applied for. He took on the role of being both the Pre-AP World History and World Geography teacher.

“I love geography and I love world history,” Anderson said, “that was my dream subject to teach anyway, but geography is really great because you can’t have one without the other, but also I’m going to have these freshmen, and then I will most likely have them again the next year, so then they are familiar with what I expect them to know and I know what they have been taught. I really think that will help me base a curriculum and syllabus off of my expectations of what has already been taught to them.”

Although he was a student teacher for World History last year, the course is going to be different now that it is not joined with English II. For 30 years, English II and World History teachers collaborated on assignments. However, when Staples left, a team of staff made the decision to stop the joint program. Now, without the Pre-AP English II teacher Flor Mota working with the Pre-AP World History teachers, not only will the classes be different for the students, but for the teachers as well.

“I think lots of students are relieved that the courses are not tied together,” Mota said, “but I don’t have that added colleague in another department to reinforce the skills that we’re going through, to reinforce the expectations, and I thought that was always very useful. It was just a really good way, I think, to keep up with student progress and really help them be the best writers they could.”

While teachers have had to readjust, there are benefits for students in the upcoming years, junior Sierra Moore said.

“I think people might be more likely to take [the Pre-AP courses] because they might be a little less intense now that they aren’t connected,” Moore said. “For students’ personal goals and school, I feel like it’s definitely more effective to have them separate because if you want to take both, you know that, and you just take both. But if you really just want to focus on one or the other, or don’t think you have the time to have the stress of them both being Pre-AP, then you have that choice.”

Although the courses will be altered, Anderson said he is looking forward to the challenge of his first year as a teacher.

“I want to get all the way through world history; I think we should get all the way up to 2007 from 250,000 BC,” Anderson said. “My goal is just to stay on track and get them through the whole year and ready for US History. As for Geography, I want to get all the continents covered, all the regions, not just the memorization of places, but also the human interaction. That’s my plan, to get them all the way through and to make it as interesting and fun as possible.”

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