“His passion is contagious,” writes a student at Clayton High School in St. Louis, MO about Kurtis Werner, high school history teacher, coach, and passionate leader. Werner personally “recruited, motivated, encouraged and inspired each of [Clayton High’s] cross country runners to do their personal best” both on the track and inside the classroom.
Werner was motivated early on to pursue a career in education by his mother, a high school teacher, and by his own social studies and history teachers. “Most of my social studies teachers were positive influences on me and gave me a great perspective on what it takes to make connections with students.”
Werner has also learned from his less-successful teachers: “ I was motivated by a few teachers who could have done a better job of incorporating the importance of their material and I knew there had to be another way in which to influence history in students’ lives through various pedagogical styles.”
Clayton High School principal, Dr. Louise Losos describes Werner’s own teaching style as “dynamic and energetic. One of his greatest strengths is his ability make history relevant to students and connect them to history in a meaningful and caring way. Mr. Werner makes students feel safe as well as respected in his classroom.”
Werner sees his role as a teacher as “the needle by which all thread is sent through.” Werner embraces his responsibility of having influence over his students, and is invigorated by the knowledge that “society depends on him.”
Werner works hard to make sure his students excel, and is constantly rewarded in the classroom, especially when he’s able to show his students that “learning can be interactive and fun. Every time I see a student smile in class I know I have made a connection.”
Part of what keeps Werner in the classroom is his desire to be a “life-long learner.” The dynamic classroom setting keeps Werner on his toes, and he’s grateful to have a job without any dull moments. Even when grading papers late into the night or working extra hours to finish a curriculum plan, Werner is inspired by Winston Churchill’s famous quote: “Never, never, never give up.”
Ed. note: This article is the second in a summer-long, weekly blog series celebrating young teachers. We hope these profiles of teachers who have inspired their students and increased their classroom’s performance will help the best and the brightest discover their pathway to teaching! See the first profile here.
Cross-posted from the TEACH Blog.