David Ponton, III '09 taught high school social studies in Ewing, NJ since the 2009-2010 school year. He was responsible for United States History I curriculum, which begins with early colonization and ends with President Roosevelt and the New Deal on the eve of the WWII. He taught one section of honors-level U.S. History I and co-taught one section of U.S. History I with an inclusion teacher each year. In addition, he has written curriculum for and taught multiple sections of African American History as a college preparatory elective.
David has learned that preparing the presentation of content and creating a setting where there is an opportunity for learning is less than half of the battle--and, believe it, teaching is a battle. But after acknowledging and attempting to meet the personal needs of twenty-seven students, after identifying and incorporating state-mandated discrete curriculum content, after responding to phone calls upon phone calls and e-mails upon e-mails, the reward of engaging in stimulating discussion that transcends the mundane school day and the triteness of textbook rote learning provides the teacher with such sustenance as to prepare for yet another day's battle.
He journals his student's profundity and finds inspiration in their learning. An otherwise difficult day teaching the philosophical pillars of the Constitution transforms into jubilation when students speak and write such nuggets as: "It's difficult to consider Thomas Jefferson a hero for democracy, however--as a hero must be wholly pure in logic, but not necessarily in actions" and "With truth comes rebellion." And, in response to the philosopher Cato's treatise on liberty as the "divine source for all human happiness" this concern: "Is this idea so obviously true? Will governors be happy giving up their positions to ‘belittle’ themselves as average men? Will average people be able to adjust and function properly to the idea of 'no laws'? And as a human race, can we actually work together and get along without added incentives or punishment? There are lots of questions to be answered, but right now, at this point in time, I don't think we are ready for liberty."
If student engagement and growth as young scholars provides sustenance for the battle, then collaboration with other professionals builds up the arsenal. In particular, TPP, the College Board, and David's own Social Studies department play an integral role in his continued professional development—a lot of which is focused on integrating technology into the classroom to increase the many facets of literacy 21st century learners must become skilled in, but also awareness of and engagement with current content-specific research, the latter which he maintains is important for any teacher who hopes to build a classroom culture where critical thinking holds a higher pedestal than mere content retention.
David works so that literacy will win over confidence-defeating frustration, for passion to triumph over apathy, and for history to become ourstories in ways that reaffirm human interconnectedness.
David is currently in graduate school in New Orleans, LA.