1. What motivated you to write Maverick Teachers?
A.J. : I've worked in public education all my life and feel it often gets a bad rap of "needing fixing". What I've seen is schools and teachers around the country doing an amazing job with what they have to give students learning experiences that we would all want for our students. This book was about sharing those stories and inspiring others to take action.
Dave.: Like A.J. I've been startled at the negative image of public education that is fostered nationally. Maverick Teachers is the telling of real stories of real people fighting for our kids in our schools. Having spent the vast majority of my life working to make schools and learning better I know we are better than we have ever been. I've stood shoulder to shoulder with countless great teachers working their hearts out with diminishing resources and respect. The story in the national mind is one that needs adjusting. Hopefully Mavericks can help make the national story a little better.
2. From the book, what is your favorite strategy/piece of advice?
A. J.: My favorite strategy is to take intentional risks. Those risks that have the potential to change the life of a student through a unique learning experience.
Dave: Each story is kind of special. My take away from the book is that almost every school has Maverick Teachers, those people who know their kids are more than a test score and that with the right kind of nurturing, kids, and teachers as well, blossom and thrive. Often, it doesn't take that much to create an environment that is engaging and student centric--and a great place to be a learner. For advice I'd say find the other Mavericks and partner up, it can be lonely otherwise.
3. Tell us one of your favorite stories about a student you’ve worked with.
A.J.: I had a student who was struggling in my 9th-grade academic level class. He had never been told that he could do the work to a high-level. When he took these new expectations to heart, his entire mindset changed to one focused on growth. Later that year I recommended him for 10th-grade honor's class. By Senior year he was taking AP classes and became the class salutatorian at graduation. He wound up a Penn State University and has defied all the odds to become a successful account at KPMG.
Dave: As a superintendent I don't get to work with kids that much. Recently I did start working with kids on a manufacturing/business project. One of the kids said to me, "You know Dr. Baugh, I get the business side of things, and I get the manufacturing side of things. What I really love is when we make some thing beautiful and people really love what they are getting." I just loved the Ah Ha moment of this young leader realizing that students could really add value. It was a fantastic moment.
4. What has been one of the proudest moments of your education career so far? OR
What or who inspired you to become an educator?
A.J.: My proudest moment is hearing from former students who are now making an impact on the world around them because of the experiences they had in school.
Dave: Mrs. Sandra Redden was a fantastic elementary teacher in Southern Indiana where I grew up. She would never tolerate mediocre from us. She pushed me hard to do better and I did. I am totally grateful for all she did for me and my classmates. We were not an easy bunch.
5. And finally, please tell us your favorite thing about being in Education in one word.
A.J. : Impact
Dave: Growth mindset