About Mike

Teaching wasn’t my first choice as a profession…well not really.

When I graduated from high school, I entered the University of Texas as a Geology major. My interest was in the fossils, dinosaurs, prehistory part of geology even though most of the students were training to work for oil companies. I was destined to be a poor geologist.

Chemistry is the reason I’m not a geologist. I HATE chemistry. To this day, I cringe when I see a periodic table. Two semesters of chemistry was required to move on in the geology program. I barely passed one semester.

I needed a change…not just because I was failing, but because I realized I wasn’t cut out to be a scientist. My other passion was history, but I wasn’t sure what else I could do with a history degree besides teach. I wasn’t against teaching, I just wasn’t sure if I would be any good at it. I have always enjoyed helping people, but I’m not exactly the most outgoing person. I don’t like labels, but I would probably be best considered an ambivert. Anyway, my parents would have the final say on what I studied in school since my dad was using his annuity to pay for my college.

Many people look to their parents for ideas of what to do when they grow up. My dad was an electrician for thirty-plus years. Once, when I was in elementary school, I remember mentioning to my dad that I wanted to be an electrician when I grow up. That didn’t go over well. He proceeded to tell me that I would NOT work in any type of construction. I was going to go to college and get a job that didn’t require me to “work” for a living. (Just for clarification, by “work” he meant manual labor.) I saw the toll it took on his body, and I am grateful he did not encourage me to follow in his footsteps.

My mom was a homemaker for much of the time I was growing up. Nope, I’m probably not going to be able to do that for a living. About the time I started junior high, she worked in various secretarial and retail jobs to keep herself busy and bring in a little extra money. So basically, whatever I did after college was going to be branching out in a new direction from my parents.

When I went home to tell my parents my new plan about being a history teacher, my dad very calmly told me that if I was going to school to be a teacher, he was going to stop paying for my education.

Well okay then.

Unsure of what to do next, I just loaded up on liberal arts classes that I thought might be useful electives at some point. One of the classes was Intro to Microeconomics, and I really enjoyed the class, despite the fact that I’ve never been very comfortable with math. I changed my major the next semester and graduated a couple of years later with a BA in Economics and a Minor in Business. Now I still had to figure out what I wanted to do.

The first two years after UT I worked for a now defunct accounts payable outsourcing company. I helped pay bills all day. It was as exciting as it sounds. It was BORING…but I was good at it. After year one, I was promoted and given a team of four to manage. My favorite part of the job was when I had to train my team on some new system or process (which seemed to happen way too often). Other than that, I was miserable.

One Friday night while I was hanging in my apartment (yes, really), I came across a website for an alternative teacher certification program through one of the regional service centers. They were having an information meeting the next morning. The next few months were a blur as I went through the transition of applying for the program, quitting my job, going through the teacher training, meeting my future wife, and trying to find a teaching job. The most nervous that I was through the whole ordeal was when I went to tell my parents what I was doing. Four years earlier they had been cold to the idea of me being a teacher. This time they were completely okay with it and even helped me with my finances for the couple of months when I didn’t have a job.

I told this story to a coworker once, and she said to me, “Sometimes parents have to grow up too.”

While in the teacher certification program, I met my wife. We hit it off pretty quickly and the rest, as they say, is history. (Pun intended.) It is nice that we are both in education because we understand the frustrations and fulfillment of the profession. We also have the same holidays! We have a son and a daughter who are cursed with having educators as parents. Lord help them. They won’t be able to get away with anything!

I have taught high school social studies since the 2002-2003 school year at three different high schools. During that time I have taught World Geography (level and Pre-AP), Sociology, AP European History (only one semester), US History (Honors, Dual Credit, and AP), and Economics (Level, Honors, and AP). I returned to graduate school and earned an MA in History from Sam Houston State University in 2007. Currently, I am teaching Advanced Placement US History (since 2006) and Advanced Placement Macroeconomics (since 2012), which, oddly enough, are the two subjects that I have degrees in.

I love my job and the students that I teach. When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them I hang out with teenagers all day. They keep me young and they keep me smiling…most of the time.

Thanks for visiting Scenes From the Fourth Row. If you’re curious about the name, click here. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions.

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