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English teacher nationally recognized for classroom techniques

October 24, 2016

When it comes to technology, English might not be the subject that first comes to mind. However, teacher Andrew Easton is trying to change this stereotype. Last spring, Easton was one of the 52 educators in the nation to be named a Lead Digital Innovator by PBS.

Easton says it’s not the award that’s important, but rather the connections that it has provided.

“I think that one of the best parts of it has just been the personal learning network,” Easton said. “It’s given me people around the country to collaborate with that I would not have been able to talk to otherwise.”

He credits this award to one of his students, who went up to him after his first try at implementing video into a lesson, and said that the video was terrible. Since then, Easton has pushed himself to get better and better at engaging students with technology.

Easton also got to go to Denver over the summer to represent Nebraska and meet with the other recipients of the award.

“I met 51 other teachers from 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Virgin islands. It’s been great working with them and through social media I have met other teachers. For example, I had three different hour long conversations; one with a teacher in Michigan one from Ontario and one from Florida and it’s just cool because you learn so much and try to bring back to share with everybody here.”

Inside the classroom, Easton is staying engaged with the students and tries to make class as independent as possible.

“There will be times throughout the year where we will go into personalized learning unit where students will decide what lessons they learn, set goals for themselves, and will write daily reflections. Every decision is on the student.”

Easton grew up in a small town in Kansas, and went on to get a degree at the University of Kansas. Coming from a rural town, his main inspiration was his grandfather and father, who were both teachers as well. They also both coached the football team and were known for their hard work mentality. Easton, who is a cross country coach, credits his passion to these two people. His main goal in the classroom is make his students better. Whether it be through memoirs or grammar, Easton loves seeing students grow throughout the year.

“My grandfather was my hero growing up and my dad’s character and values really shaped who I am today. They were both football coaches and to be around them I learned that they were motivational and passionate about what they did. I was kind of raised that way coming from a small town.”

Easton believes that the combination of his father’s mentality and his mother’s creativity works perfectly with the technology that he is provided with at Westside. Overall, Easton found his passion just like his parents did and followed through in a way that was recognized nationally.

“I feel like there are so many phenomenal teachers here at the high school that I really appreciate working here. There are great ideas in all departments and Westside is a really special place.”

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