Educator Portrait: “Be Organized” at Perspectives Leadership Academy

By Christopher Boswell
February 18, 2015

CHICAGO—I teach because every day is a new adventure at Perspectives Leadership Academy, where I have taught for more than five years. Each day of learning and teaching is unique, and to me, that is what makes life—and education—exciting.

I teach at Perspectives Charter Schools because I firmly believe that strong character coupled with high quality academic preparation is a sure-fire way to prepare young people for college and life. I use the A Disciplined Life (ADL) education model—which combines rigorous academic classes and strong character education—to achieve academic and character education goals for my students. Students and staff alike study the 26 principles of A Disciplined Life, which help us develop positive self-perception, healthy relationships and tools for productivity.

A favorite quote of mine by John Wooden reminds me of how important it is to be a person of strong character to live a rewarding life. "Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are." One of the most challenging aspects of teaching is to build stable relationships with students while also being their toughest critic. I celebrate the fact that I have become a better educator because I have successfully managed this delicate balance with my students.

I teach 9th grade World History and ADL at 81st and May in Auburn Gresham. Teaching history helps me appreciate the nuances of relationships that are formed over time. In fact, I recall teaching a class where five of the students all had at least one older sibling who I had taught previously. Each of them already knew who I was when they started my class and had been told by their older siblings that "he cool." Of course, I am flattered by how I am regarded as a teacher and person, but it made me realize that by being a veteran teacher at Perspectives, I have the ability to build lasting relationships with families and individual students.

I am actively studying the ADL principle “be organized.” I have always struggled with this principle. In general, my desk and backpack are usually cluttered with papers and other personal items, which sometimes makes it hard for me to find things at the moment I need them. I am making a concerted effort to declutter things in my life so that I can focus on the things are important to me, like providing a quality education to my students day in and day out.

Despite coming from some of the most underserved neighborhoods in Chicago, Perspectives students graduate from high school, enroll in college, and persist in college at rates above the national average for all students. Our current students and alumni are ethical young leaders who will transform lives in this city and beyond.

Christopher graduated with a bachelor’s degree in History and a certificate in education from Illinois Wesleyan University. He completed a Master of Education in Instructional Leadership at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Chris is living A Disciplined Life 26 principles at a time.

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***Educator Portrait is a monthly feature that highlights the commitment to quality teaching at Perspectives.