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The official student news site of Coppell High School

Coppell Student Media

The official student news site of Coppell High School

Coppell Student Media

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October 26, 2023

Teacher of the Issue: Chanin creating change by channeling cross-cultural connections

It’s 8:32 a.m. on a Thursday morning and Coppell High School history teacher Joshua Chanin wears a bright smile on his face.

His room, adorned with vital aspects of his identity – a photo frame with Queen Elizabeth, a photo gallery of his students, a notable wall of the 46 U.S. presidents – has become an appendage of him. It is not always easy to know if a teacher enjoys their subject, but in the case of Chanin, it’s glaringly discernible.

Chanin is the physical manifestation of contradictions: he wears professional blazers as a man in his 30s, he is a first generation college student and an educator, but most importantly, he teaches AP U.S. history and IB History of the Americas as someone from England.

Coppell High School AP U.S. History teacher Joshua Chanin shows off his portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, a special piece in his classroom. Chanin has been selected as The Sidekick’s Volume 35 No. 3 Teacher of the Issue. (Natalia Esquivel )

Born in London, Chanin lived in the United Kingdom. Chanin not only carries fragments of memories from England but his own voice: an English accent crafted from his experience within the country. 

“Let’s just say that a lot of people made me say Harry Potter and other British type words because the accent was unusual,” Chanin said. 

The accent has grown to become a trademark facet of his identity, recognized by each of his students. 

“His accent is unlike other teachers here,” junior Niyathi Yamunan said. “He posted an update on Schoology about a quiz we had. When I was reading it, I heard his voice in my head. I’ve never had that happen to me before.”

When Chanin moved to the United States at 10 because of his father’s job, his accent remained.

“My dad was offered a job in the United States from Nokia,” Chanin said. “He loved the U.S. and could not refuse it. He was offered a job in either Dallas and Boston because that’s where the headquarters are. He took Dallas because of the weather and I’ve been here ever since.”

In January 2005, Chanin and his family moved to Coppell from Downtown Dallas, living in a neighborhood near Denton Creek Elementary. 

“In fifth grade, we took  a fifth grade science TAKS test,” Chanin said. “I actually failed it just because I didn’t know the information. I remember having a meeting with the principal and my parents.”

Chanin has a profound humility, as he acknowledges his imperfections as a lifelong learner. It is this self-awareness that followed Chanin to Coppell Middle School North, where his passion for history began to flourish. 

“Angela Geiger, my eighth grade U.S. history teacher, was fantastic,” Chanin said. “She encouraged me to read every single book in the Cozby Library from child to adult history books. One of the first books I picked up was John Adams by David McCullough. That is where my passion for history comes from. ”

Through his experience in England, Chanin’s global awareness complements his penchant for identifying stories within history. 

“I love biographies,” Chanin said. “While I was in England, I loved learning about the history of monarchs. It is beautiful to narrow down a story to a person and see how they affect the lives around them.”

Soon, he found his place within New Tech @ Coppell, which true to its name, was new to him. 

“The end of eighth grade came in May of 2008,” Chanin said. “I had a choice: Coppell ISD was opening up a new high school. All my friends were going to Coppell High School. I decided to take the jump and go to New Tech. It sounded different, and I like change.”

Despite the distance between New Tech @ Coppell and CHS, being the swim captain of his school team helped Chanin bridge the rift. 

“That first year at New Tech was full of adjustments as we were testing the new project based learning model,” said Chanin. “It was strange, but I still continued to swim with CHS’s swim team since New Tech did not have a team. My coach taught business at the school, so there were times I came here and saw my friends and this side of the city.”

More than being able to experience another school, swimming enabled Chanin to dive into becoming a leader as captain during his junior and senior year. 

“Swimming became a big part of my life,” Chanin said. “The high school swim team was a good experience; it molded me into the leader I am today. It taught me not to quit as I keep on going through the challenges while lifting others up. Whenever I saw someone on the opposite side of the pool struggling with a workout, I would help them understand why the workout was important and swim with them.” 

In the process of changes, however, his abundant optimism helped him overcome his struggles. It is this light that not only led him to find peace but affected his interactions with those around him. 

“Kindness is one of Mr. Chanin’s most prominent traits,” Chanin’s wife Dr. Carly Chanin said. “In fact, that’s what attracted me to him. We met in college when he had a crush on my resident assistant and frequently visited my dorm. He came by one night and was bombarded by a group of girls asking him to put on a face mask. It impressed me he was willing to join in on girly things without hurting his masculinity, and I’ve had a crush on him since.”

But Mr. Chanin’s kindness, in his wife’s eyes, is also what makes him a successful educator. 

“I think his kindness is why he is such an amazing teacher,” Dr. Carly Chanin said. “It takes a special kind of person to handle a full classroom with grace.”

His wife’s sentiments are echoed by both students and teachers alike. For first-year U.S. History teacher Mallory Sather, who has Mr. Chanin as her Beginning Educators and Mentors (BEAM) Program mentor, Mr. Chanin’s empathy could not be more valuable. 

“Last year, I was a student observer in the fall and a student teacher in the spring,” Sather said. “So, I was here every day in the spring. Joshua was an integral part of my teaching experience. We were on the same team, so we would plan together. Nobody has to check on the student teacher except the mentor teacher, so he owed me nothing, but Joshua would check up on me every day. He offers support in such an empathetic way by showing how he’s been in these shoes before.”

Coppell High School AP U.S. History teacher Joshua Chanin has a bulletin board in his classroom, in which he showcases his letters and favorite memories from past students. Chanin has been selected as The Sidekick’s Volume 35 No. 3 Teacher of the Issue. (Natalia Esquivel)

Mr. Chanin’s room offers a refuge of kindness, authenticity and vulnerability, serving as an extension of him. It is a place where students can laugh, cry or talk without judgment, knowing that Mr. Chanin will be there to listen. 

His energy extends beyond his room. 

“His kindness radiates throughout the department,” Sather said. “I don’t think there’s a teacher in the building that doesn’t admire Mr. Chanin for how much of a ray of sunshine he is in our school. Even on his worst days, he is still a ray of light to the people around him.”

Follow Anushree De (@anushree_night) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.

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About the Contributor
Anushree De, Features Editor
Anushree De is a senior and the features editor of The Sidekick, where their passion for storytelling flourishes. Their favorite films, La La Land, Zootopia, and Everything Everywhere All at Once, resonate with creative optimism, mirroring her outlook on life. Born in Topeka, Kansas, Anushree embarked on a journey that ultimately led to finding her place in Coppell during second grade. The challenging transition from charter to public school shaped Anushree into the resilient individual they are today. In her spare time, Anushree immerses herself in the enchanting world of Spanish literature, relishing the perspectives it offers. As they have started their senior year, their advice to their younger self would simply be a hug, a reminder that growth is a journey worth embracing. Anushree finds comfort in taking walks in nature as a break from her busy schedule. You can contact her through [email protected] or on X (@anushree_night).

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