In Brett Williamson's classes at Fort Dodge Senior High, history is not the boring subject some people have come to expect. Williamson engages students in fun activities and discussions, connecting the past with the present. What fuels his passion in the classroom? Fort Dodge Today has the answer.
What do you teach and how long have you been teaching?
I will be teaching Western Civ I and II for Iowa Central, Advanced Placement U.S. History, American Government, Applied Personal Psychology, and Social Psychology this year. My teaching assignment usually changes a bit from year to year.
Brett Williamson makes history come alive for his students. Williamson also oversees Model UN for the Senior High.
I have been teaching for sixteen years, this is my ninth year in the Fort Doge Community Schools.
Why do you think it's important for people to study those subjects?
I think that social sciences are important because it teaches students to engage in a different kind of thinking than more concrete subjects. When one studies the human condition, it is far less predictable than other sciences. That being said, it requires students to think more abstractly to find potential solutions to tough issues.
What extracurricular activities do you help with? What do you like best about them?
I am the faculty sponsor for Model UN and also am a parent/coach for U12 girl's soccer through the FDSA. I really enjoy both activities immensely. Model UN gives me the opportunity to engage students in real world issues that encourage them to look beyond their own region to develop a global perspective. Soccer allows me to spend more time with my daughter and also to help younger kids to stay active, develop character and a love for the game.
Where are you from? How long have you been in the Fort Dodge area?
I grew up in Fort Dodge and came back to the community fourteen years ago.
Do you have children?
I have three wonderful children. Angelina (10) who is a fifth grader, Dimitry (5) who is in TK, and Evan (9 Months) who keeps mom company at home. I have also been blessed with a loving, supportive wife, Christine, who basically manages all of our activities and keeps everyone in line.
Who or what was your inspiration to become a teacher?
I had lots of people who served as a source of inspiration in my journey into education. I have always respected teachers because I saw how they sometimes sacrificed selfish goals to accomplish a greater good. If I were to narrow it down, I would say Sister Mary Eugene at St. Edmonds because she taught me the importance of discipline and perseverance, Bill Lehmkuhl at FDSH taught me the importance of engaging students with material, and the Takatsuka's at FDSH showed me the importance of letting kids know you care and supporting them even when they make foolish decisions.
What is your favorite unit to teach and why?
I absolutely love teaching the Civil War. I like this particular period because I think it is a great illustration of the absolute best and worst characteristics of the American character.
Do you have a favorite historical period?
Wow! That is a tough one. In European History, I would have to say the Age of Reason. In American History, I would have to say anything dealing with Antebellum America.
What do you like best about teaching at FDSH?
The best thing is that I think everyone I work with really cares about kids. I like the different ability levels that you might have during any given year. Also I like the fact that there are so many opportunities for kids to get involved. I am really excited about the direction the district is going and what is on the horizon.
What do you hope students will take from your classes?
I hope students gain an understanding of the world in which they live, what it took for our nation to get to this point, and the importance of their role in maintaining and/or restoring our national character.
What do you like best about the students you work with?
The best thing about students at Senior High is that for the most part they really try to give you their best. I have yet to run across many students that simply refuse or are unable to do what is asked of them. Of all the schools I have taught in, I would say students here are the most perseverant. They want to learn.
What do you enjoy doing in your leisure time?
I like to do anything that involves spending time with my family. My favorite thing to do on an annual basis is to go to the East Coast to visit my wife's family in North Carolina or Pennsylvania. My favorite thing to do daily is sit down, have dinner, and talk to my children and wife.
Do you have a favorite book?
I have lots of favorite books. If I were forced to choose one, I would say F. Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment.
Can you recall a funny or memorable story you'd like to share from your years as a teacher?
When I was teaching at TRV (Twin River Valley) while living in Fort Dodge, I noticed a large number of pickup trucks leaving the parking lot with cases of toilet paper during homecoming week. Upon my arrival home, I almost missed my house because it was tp'ed with hundreds of rolls of two-ply.
What was your favorite subject when you were in school?
I really liked all of them, but always enjoyed physics a little bit more than the others.
Is there something your students might be surprised to learn about you?
That I like to bake/cook.
Students Speak Out: What do YOU like about Mr. Williamson?
I like Mr. Williamson because he doesn't just give you the material and tell you to learn it, he actually makes you think and analyze it.
I've had two siblings that had him, so I've heard a lot of good things about his classes. His A.P. class is nice because we get the college experience so we're more prepared when we get to that point.
I don't know what I like more, the four essays a week or the 80 question exams. Either way, Mr. Williamson is a great teacher because he teaches you history how it actually was.
Mr. Williamson's class makes you think and look at different events in history from a completely different view. It is truly a great class.