Brian Nagel, English Teacher, Albemarle High School
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
As an English teacher, my biggest challenge is to convince students of the value of literature and of reading and writing in general. Reading fiction, novels, poems, and plays opens up worlds and experiences to which we would otherwise never have access. Students need this kind of exposure to be successful in our increasingly global economy.
What is the most common misconception about your job?
Many people don’t realize that our schools and classrooms reflect our community, or–more precisely–that they are our community. Students bring to school all of the challenges that they face at home, among their peers, and wherever they go. We cannot ignore those challenges and simply expect kids “to learn.” We have to place learning in the context of everything else that is going on in students’ lives.
Where do you see the teaching field in five years?
Students and teachers will be bringing more real-world applications into the classroom as we try to develop skills that are more transferable to the world outside of the classroom. I also have no doubt that we will be using technology in ways that we cannot imagine at the moment, but which we need to be prepared for nonetheless.
What outside experience best prepared you to become an educator?
Prior to making a career transition to teaching, I worked for over 20 years in the business world, in positions such as Vice President of Client Services, Director of Sales, Marketing and Customer Service, and Software Consulting. Having that experience provides me with the opportunity to let students know what life is like in the real world, what to expect, and what skills businesses value.