Teacher Feature: Mr. Coe

Photo Credit to Mr. Coe.

Photo Credit to Mr. Coe.

Mr. George Coe teaches AP World History and freshman World History. He has previously taught a Current Events and World Religions class, but he is not teaching that this year. When asked about why he enjoys teaching at West Po, Mr. Coe said he enjoys the diversity of the student population. He also likes the short commute and the freedom he has as a teacher at the school. 

“I have been able to teach what I want to teach and [have] been able to add my religion and current events course,” Mr. Coe said in the interview.

Mr. Coe went to Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut for his undergraduate years. He later went to George Mason University where he got his master’s degree in history. He said he enjoyed college like most people do. As for why, he cited the geographic difference of his northern college to his southern upbringing. He enjoyed the new and different experience that going to college in the north provided him with. He decided to major in history because he loved it in high school, where he said he had good teachers that made the subject a lot of fun.  

Studying history is another factor as to why Mr. Coe liked college, as he said, “I probably would have liked studying it [history] in any college.”

Mr. Coe did not immediately become a teacher after graduating college. Although he wanted to be a teacher when he got out of college, the job market was not right for him. Mr. Coe said that because of the baby boom of the 1950s, it was hard for him to get a job, so he decided to go into business. He worked in business for 15 years, and then he decided to get his master’s degree. While he was at George Mason University getting his master’s degree in history, he completed his teaching certification. By that time, the job market had become more favorable for Mr. Coe as some baby boomers were beginning to retire, which opened up the opportunity for him to become a teacher. He has since spent his entire teaching career at West Po.

When asked about his favorite part of teaching, Mr. Coe said there are multiple facets of the job he enjoys. He loves having the opportunity to work with kids. He also really likes history and thinks it is a great story. Another part of teaching Mr. Coe enjoys is the challenge of getting his students to enjoy history. 

He said, “I think planning lessons and trying to make it interesting and engaging for kids is something I really enjoy.”

Mr. Coe said technology is one of the biggest factors that has changed the way he teaches over his career. 

“I don’t think cell phones were around in 2000,” Mr. Coe explained. “I was still using overhead projectors with film that you would move.” 

Even before the pandemic, Mr. Coe used computers every day in his class. He said that the added technology has forced him to adapt to new ways of teaching that incorporates new methods of learning, especially now during the coronavirus pandemic. One positive aspect of new technology is the variety it provides. Mr. Coe said he thinks the technology helps keep his students engaged by expanding the different activities they can do in class. 

“If you can … do two or three different activities that are not all on the computer but some of it … I think it is helpful,” Mr. Coe said. “And technology helps provide some of that variety.”

Virtual learning greatly impacts Mr. Coe’s teaching with regards to time. Before online learning, each class would meet two or three times per week for 85 minutes per period. Now, each class only meets twice per week every week, and the meetings are just 80 minutes long. This puts a burden on Mr. Coe as a teacher as he said it is impossible to cover everything in an AP course in two 80 minute classes each week. 

“That’s one of the biggest challenges is how you get kids to learn, especially in an advanced AP class,” Mr. Coe explained. “How to get them [to learn] the content and the skills over a shortened amount of time.”

All of Mr. Coe’s students know about his two plants, Fred and Ethel. In a normal school year, they would live on the deck of his trailer. He occasionally mentions his plants in class, such as on a rainy day when he muses about how happy they will be to get some water. Mr. Coe’s students get to know Fred and Ethel over the school year, and these two plants are beloved by all. When asked about how Fred and Ethel came to be, Mr. Coe said it started when he moved to his trailer about four or five years ago. 

He said, “I had to make the deck look nice, so I adopted Fred and Ethel.” 

Since then, the plants have been a staple of Mr. Coe’s trailer, displaying a unique part of his personality.