Timothy Short is an AP government teacher, part of the Global Ecology Program, at Poolesville High School. He was interviewed at the school Nov. 15.
This is your seventh year at Poolesville what have you achieved in those years?
I teach 10th-grade AP government, the first AP government class most students take.
Teaching government is only half of my job. [The other] half is helping [students] know themselves.
I see that when they leave my class they are prepared to take any AP class. I think I do a good job with that, each student knows what they need to do to be successful in any class. I want students to know what kind of learners they are. Once students know what key they need they will be able to open any door.
I want to be the teacher that students can say, ďI really enjoyed that class.Ē If you find that balance of learning and enjoying it, thatís what you need.
Elementary school students only get social studies three or four days every other week. Are they prepared for social studies when they come to you?
I think that reading and writing and math are the building blocks so social studies can be hard if you donít have those skills.
Teaching in AP classes, reading skills and note taking skills are absolutely essential. Students who do [well in] reading and writing seem to have the organization they need.
I notice that you have photos of each of the presidential candidates [for the Nov. 6 election]. Is that part of your class?
One of my big goals is to make sure students learn about politics in a safe environment, that I am not leading them down a certain path. I do feel like I am in an influential position and I could do that. Itís the nature of this job, a government teacher, [the students] are looking at me as an authority on government. But I want them to understand two things: what they stand for and why. If they understand both sides then thatís when they can ultimately make their own choices.
I notice you grew up and studied on the West Coast, what brought you east?
Montgomery County really values education and funds education. To be a teacher there is something to be said about being valued. My wife had taught in Montgomery County, so when we were looking it was natural that we would look here.
Also, the Global Ecology Program was exciting to me. The year I came was the first year they turned the Global Ecology Program into a magnet program, 2006-2007. It is a field-based program, the students learn about things in the classroom and then we take them on field trips. For example, we are going to the Newseum tomorrow to learn about media and the elections.
Your wife, Lisa Short, is a biology teacher at Quince Orchard High School. Do you discuss teaching and school life?
Absolutely. I think thatís one of the benefits of having a spouse who teaches. We always get ideas from each other. Like with the Promethean boards, we challenged each other and became kind of experts of the Promethean boards.
What is hard about having a spouse who is a teacher is in California we actually taught two years at the same school. That was hard — too much time together. Now we can be empathic.
Who is your favorite historical character?
Being from California, I think John Muir. That whole era of exploring what hasnít been explored and trying to save things for the future.
Why did you chose teaching as a career?
The question was to go to law school or go into teaching. I decided I would like to teach at a law school, but thatís a long time. To do that you have to be a lawyer and I didnít really want to be a lawyer, I wanted to teach law. What could be better than teaching it [as] government in high school?
ďVoices in EducationĒ is a twice-monthly feature that highlights the men and women who are involved with the education of Montgomery Countyís children. To suggest someone you would like to see featured, email Peggy McEwan at firstname.lastname@example.org.