Teaching is an art. On a daily basis, teachers all across the country and in the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) prepare lessons to strive to bring out the best in their students and achieve academic and personal success.
Meet Don Dumas, Advanced Placement U.S. History Teacher and Boys Varsity Basketball Coach at Bonita Vista High School in the Sweetwater District. Dumas was recently named among the five San Diego County Teachers of the Year at the 2012 Salute to Teachers Gala held at Balboa Theatre in September.
“I feel very fortunate to be named Teacher of the Year,” Dumas said. “All 42 of the nominees were exceptional teachers, and I am completely humbled by the idea that so many other educators consider my classroom practices to be on par with theirs. “
Dumas has been teaching history and economics for nine years and has also served as the boys varsity basketball coach since 2014.
Dumas excels at making personal connections with his students as a way of establishing trust and further reinforcing a safe learning environment. “There is nothing more rewarding than when a student tells me that I have given them confidence to pursue some goal, whether it be in academia or elsewhere,” said Dumas. “That is my ultimate goal- to use my history curriculum and my ability to connect in order to empower students”
After his own challenging experiences in life and school, he was drawn to teaching so that he could help students who face familiar challenges. To help students succeed, he creates an environment where students can be “their authentic self,” express their views, and where their individual experiences are valued, not dismissed.
As an education advocate, Dumas believes in equitable education so much that he is the ‘Culture, Climate and Safety Committee Co-Chair for SUHSD. “I have always designed my classroom practices around what the students in front of me need, not what the standards said they needed,” said Dumas. “Sometimes those things align, but sometimes they don’t. I would discuss these things with my students, and tell them that I want to empower them to succeed in life in whatever they want to attempt. Now more than ever I am even more confident that I am doing the right thing in my classroom.”
One of Dumas’s former students said it best. “He falls nothing short of an amazing life coach with the ability to incorporate real-life conflicts with each history lesson in a way that speaks to each student individually.”
“I believe in all children that entire my classroom,” says Dumas. “Whether they are troubled or privileged, I strive to seek the potential in each and every student.”