The world is waiting… GO! (with video)

Stroud takes his shot at reality television stardom

Anette Varghese, Student Life Editor

Traveling by plane is stressful. 

Being the person holding up an entire aisle is also quite stressful. 

Then Hebron High School AP English IV teacher Benjamin Stroud was in a predicament and in dire need of change. The change presented itself as Tracy Henson, a Coppell High School AP English teacher, who was also on her way to grade AP exams in Florida. As the conversation went on Stroud found a new career path to pursue, ultimately bringing him to Coppell. 

“Do you need an AP Lang teacher?” And she said, ‘Actually, we do.’ “Really? Hi. I’m Ben Stroud,” Stroud said.  “And she said, ‘Hi, I’m Tracy Henson.’ And through that, I got an interview and I got hired.” 

Of the 22 years Stroud has dedicated to teaching, 15 years at Hebron High School, four years at Decatur High School, and three years at CHS, he has had his favorite teaching memories in Coppell. 

“My first year, I taught I had five sections of AP English III, and one section of sophomore honors GT, a class of 30,” Stroud said. “Our first three weeks were really rough. But we got together, and we made it work. I have some of those 30 right now on my AP IV, and they are known as the G.O.A.T. 30.” 

CHS senior Deepa Chivukula is a member of the original 30 sophomores in Stroud’s AP English class. At the beginning of senior year she found herself sitting in the same room that spawned a group chat under the name ‘Stroud’s GT G.O.A.T.’

“[Stroud] is a very entertaining teacher,” Chivukula said. “If we’re reading a poem, [he’ll make it] more interesting by showing us videos. He would play music videos at the end of class sophomore year, to just brighten up the mood.”

While teaching, Stroud has made it a point to become someone more than a teacher in his students’ lives. He aims to bridge the gap between trusted adults and growing learners by being authentic, and sharing more than just curriculum. 

“His bubbly personality sets him apart,” Chivukula said. “He shares his personal side with us, it makes him a teacher that you feel like you can talk to.  [Someone] more relatable than a strictly professional teacher who only talks about school. He is more understanding about everything.”

Stroud has been a fan of CBS reality show “The Amazing Race” since 2006. The show resonated with him because of the characteristics it called for: perseverance, physical and emotional intelligence.  Once he found out about auditions at the Bankston Nissan dealership in Lewisville in 2012, he found a partner in his Hebron High School student council co-sponsor and AP Chemistry teacher, Kerri Boyd.  

After answering a 30-page packet of questions including the likes of “What are your hobbies?, What’s your worst fear? Can you eat live animals? Are you competitive? How much can you run? And, do you know the different languages?”, The two passed their first-round weeding out a good portion of their competition. 

Their next step was to find a shtick or a gimmick that seemed television-worthy to the show’s producers. The two found themselves utilizing their differences, single contrasted with marriage, political affinities and personality to make themselves stand out as a pair on different ends of most spectrums. 

“Politically, [we’re on different ends of the spectrum],  yet we make things work,” Boyd said. “That was kind of our angle that we were going for. And they thought we were pretty funny and a hoot. So they brought us back.” 

Making it onto the show meant competitors would be traveling the world and competing within the next 24 hours. The teacher duo realized they had a shot at making it to the big screens and discussed plans with their principal, Hugh Jones. They were not a part of the top three pairs, which meant the audition was over for them. 

“[Auditions were] just tons of people from all walks of life,” Boyd said. “[I was] sure there were people more interesting than we are. What are the odds that they [didn’t] already have teachers? But I did have a little bit of a wait, but what if we make it?”

Rather than being upset at the end of their trial run, Stroud looks forward to future opportunities and continues to be an avid watcher of “The Amazing Race” as it airs its 33rd season. 

“We got a free T-shirt out of it that [reads] “I auditioned for ‘The Amazing Race,’” Stroud said. “I would 100 percent [audition again.] I love ‘The Amazing Race,’ and I just think it’s one of the smarter competitive races.” 

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