Mr. Woodward: Engaging Students as Individuals
February 6, 2020
Mr. Charlie Woodward is a man with a mission. He’s determined to open the minds of his history students, and he does it with heart. Mr. Woodward started his teaching career nearly two decades ago in Atlanta, where he discovered his personal passion for instructing students in the classroom and coaching aspiring athletes in the field. For Mr. Woodward, teaching is a vocation. Although he originally planned to only teach for a few years en route to grad school, he found himself staying with the teaching profession, and he explains, “It was always the personal, relational part of education that attracted me.” He started off his career teaching history and coaching cross-country and golf, and he later coached soccer as well. In the early years, Mr. Woodward had to learn a lot on the fly, as he had no prior experience working with youth.
He drew from his own positive experiences as a high school student at Westminster school in Atlanta, and he spent countless hours learning about the best teaching practices. His favorite part about teaching is “the personal, relational part of education . . . helping students and seeing them navigate their way through the learning experience.” Many of Mr. Woodward’s students recognize that he places a good deal of emphasis on the importance of engaging “with every student on an individual level.” His core belief is that the more effective teachers “understand where a student is coming from as a learner.” Teaching is not just a matter of lecturing, testing, and grading for Mr. Woodward.
When asked what he thinks is the secret to what makes the teaching experience shine for him, he responds, “I want each one of my students to know that I care about them. This goes beyond grades, scores, or college admissions – all of which are important. For me, it’s a matter of trying to live up to the call of the Golden Rule (“do to others as you would have them do to you”), and the command to love my neighbor as myself.”
When asked about what the most rewarding aspect of his job is, Mr. Woodward enthusiastically responded, “I love teaching about U.S. History, but the real fun is engaging with students in a way that opens them to something they haven’t considered, challenges them to grow, and equips them with knowledge and skills for the future.” Mr. Woodward’s goal in teaching history is to have his students to become more inquisitive and think more deeply about how everything around them has come to be, but “He never says that, because he wants people to learn what he does. That’s his mission. He teaches everyone.” For Mr. Woodward, teaching history has been a seventeen year long adventure, thirteen of which have been at CCES. The classroom experience has always intrigued him because he finds that “each class is different because of the students in it. Each group has a distinct personality and interests that inevitably makes some topics more compelling than others.”
Although Mr. Woodward has a relaxed manner in the classroom, on the field he’s all about the win.“The competitive aspect of sports stands out as different from teaching – it is fun to work together towards winning a state championship!” So, it appears, at CCES Mr. Woodward is not only intent on winning his students’ hearts and minds, but also championship trophies.