Holmes fosters excitement while earning Teacher of the Year nomination

December 26, 2019

With a room full of comics, graphic novels, movie posters and more, Coppell High School AP English teacher Alexander Holmes’s room makes his passion for storytelling clear. After just five years of teaching, Holmes was nominated as the CHS Teacher of the Year this year. 

What were you thinking when you found out you were nominated?

I was excited, and I was nervous. Because I knew the second I was nominated, I would have to stand in front of a bunch of people. While I’m happy to stand in front of 30 or 50 students at a time, standing in front of somewhere around 200 of my colleagues and peers – that’s pretty intimidating. But after I got over the initial anxiety, it’s been something wonderful. I feel extremely humbled by this experience of being able to stand up next to the other nominees; they’re all wonderful amazing teachers who I look up to, and I’m so happy to have stood alongside them. 

What do you love about teaching?

I love that I am effectively – partially – paid to build relationships. To be able to come into a building and interact with 150 or so people every day, and to be able to not only enhance their understanding of the world but also understand them as people and to see them grow, is an extremely rewarding part of my career. Another part of it is I’m a nerd, and I get to nerd out about literature and comics and movies with [my students] pretty much every day. So the fact that I see something that is one of the most beautiful things on our planet – people growing into better people – on top of things I already love because of my own interests – I feel like teaching is a really excellent career choice for me.

What are your strengths as a teacher?

My strengths as a teacher are, No. 1, that I have an overwhelming amount of passion inside of me. If it’s about literature and [Wiliam] Shakespeare’s work, or if it’s about connecting to music or anything, I always try to care as much as I possibly can about anything that interests me. That’s why [my students] will sometimes see me going down a tunnel, I just get sucked into something, and I have to say, “guys, you have to stop me.” But that passion, drive and interest only fosters further passion, drive and interest.

Did you always see yourself teaching?

No. Growing up, I had no idea what I wanted to be. I flip-flopped between video game designer, performance violinist and all sorts of other things along the way too. But the real push I got for being a teacher was from two people primarily. No. 1, my father. I had a mister-mom growing up, and having a mister-mom makes you a different sort of son. He gave me the idea that a man – not a macho man, but a true man – has the ability to foster relationships with the youth and care for others. So I always tell people, I knew I wanted to be a dad before I wanted to be a teacher. Besides my father, the other person – or people – would be all the amazing teachers I’ve had along the way. I had a lot of people show me how powerful teaching can be, and that only made it more inviting.

Do you have favorite books and/or movies that you teach?

My favorite book that I’ve taught would definitely be The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, just because it’s such a weird and awkward-to-read story; it’s really clunky if you don’t know what it is. But to be able to process stream of consciousness, which is one of the hardest forms of narrative, and to be able to understand what’s going on in someone’s mind – the human mind – is really, really fun and really, really interesting. If I had to pick a movie – honestly, I had a really fun time teaching Lord of the Rings this year, and I definitely would love to do a whole unit or class over Lord of the Rings too. 

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