Mr. Tillman- FHS Teacher of the Year

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Mr. Tillman- FHS Teacher of the Year

Drew Meyerson, Assistant Editor-in-Chief

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Each academic year, one Freedom teacher is elected Teacher of the Year, a prestigious honor based on anonymous votes from each teacher throughout the school. The award represents the extraordinary work that recognized teachers provide to their students to help them become more successful.

This year is unique, however, given that the recipient has won the award in a prior year.

Mr. Tillman, Honors and AP Economics teacher, received the award this school year for the second time, the first in the 2012-2013 school year.

“Some of it is still kind of shocking. I thought people were just doing this because they knew I would take a joke well,” laughed Tillman.

Yet after the surprise set in, Tillman explained why he was so startled by receiving the honor.

“I recognized that somebody had nominated me and I think that’s a complement in itself,” said the teacher. “I was shocked just because there has seemingly been a precedence where we have such great teachers here, wonderful people here that teach in a variety of ways, and it’s a huge shock to be able to get that honor twice.”

Tillman continued, “It’s a very unique thing and I’m greatly honored by that kind of respect from my peers.”

Despite his surprise, Tillman also recognized that he provides a unique learning environment that has allowed for his students to excel.

“Being a parent of a child, I want to provide [my students] with the same education that I want my son to have,” stated Tillman. “I want them to have the best possible opportunities, so if that means going out of my way to help them, I do that. If it means I have to support them in finding an alternative way of learning, I do that.”

One way in which Tillman provides this environment is through Life Objectives, a small piece of life advice presented to students each day.

“When teachers are in the classroom they are responsible for the content and making sure that it gets passed on to each student. But we’re also in an interesting position to be able to tell you that we have seen lots of students in your same position,” explained Tillman. “One way I do that is by helping them realize that there are objectives beyond just the stated content objectives.”

The Teacher of the Year also added that students should expect to see him remain at Freedom for the foreseeable future.

“Every time I sit down and reflect on whether I want to continue teaching or move into an administrative level or move into a different field or industry, I keep coming back to the community that exists within a classroom,” explained Tillman. “And that’s the thing that I love most, which is finding out new information and encouraging people to find out new information, which is difficult to do in other fields.”

Tillman also expressed the gratitude he feels toward the individuals surrounding him.

“I don’t consider them just colleagues but actually very close friends,” said Tillman. “And to be able to work in an industry where you’re recognized for doing well but also you love what you do with the people you do it is very, very rare. Not everybody gets to do that so I am truly thankful for that.”

The Teacher of the Year expects to continue to instruct his students to the best of his ability, acknowledging finally the importance of the environment he’s in.

“We are uniquely placed. And I feel lucky to be in a place where what I like to do most is also what this place needs.”

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