Mr. Benjamin Dickens wins Teacher of the Year


Photo By: Claudia Quiroz

In his sixth year of teaching, IB coordinator and history teacher Mr. Benjamin Dickens received the 2017-2018 JISD Distinguished Educator Award.

“I’m excited, definitely honored,” Dickens said. “It’s awesome to be able to represent Judson.”

Dickens always had the desire to be a teacher, but he wasn’t planning on becoming one. Due to being the “wallflower” in school, being a teacher sounded frightening. So, Dickens decided to go into civil engineering.

“I always wanted to teach. I had some awesome teachers in 8th and 9th grade that inspired me but I was too scared. The fact of standing up in front of thirty-two people every day was daunting,” Dickens said. “I spent about a year and a half in civil engineering and then I looked around like, ‘I can’t do this for the rest of my life.’ So, I jumped into teaching.”

For his first three years of teaching, Dickens taught in California and later transitioned to Texas due to his spouse being in the military. The last three years has been at Judson High School.

“When you first teach, you usually struggle your first three-four years, and I think when you hit that fifth year, you really think, ‘I got this’.”

Being IB coordinator can be difficult sometimes, but one thing that motivates Dickens every day is definitely his students.

“Just to see how [the students] bounce back from the challenges we give them and as a teacher, it’s insane to see. You give kids challenges, but they also challenge you. If I don’t teach a lesson great that day, then they challenge me to do better. Day to day, they drive me to come back here,” Dickens said.

Dickens started teaching as an IB teacher his first year teaching. He loves the freedom IB provides him in the classroom.

“Surprisingly, I student taught at a middle school and my middle school principal was also married to the IB coordinator at my other school that I eventually moved to,” Dickens said. “As an IB history teacher, there is no other subject that I’d ever want to teach. I love the ability to control my curriculum. I get to decide what we teach. I get to dive deeper into topics and really look at different viewpoints in history and really give kids to really be historians.”

From just moving from North Dakota, and going from middle school to advanced academics high school, it was a cultural shock for Dickens.

“I just had some phenomenal people who helped me get by and really pushed me to be my best and picked myself up on the rough days. There were plenty of rough days, but it was a crazy learning experience,” Dickens said. “I had a lot of help from some friends. Actually one of the teachers here, Mr. Anderson taught with me in California six years ago.”

Dickens loves and appreciates the opportunity to teach the students his favorite subject.

“My favorite part is the aha moment where the kids get it,” Dickens said. “With history, just that curious look kids get, where you challenge a previous notion that they had. I think critically thinking about history is one of the coolest things you can do as a history teacher.”

Being teacher of the year is an honor for an educator. Dickens has shared his love for his students, the honor it is to be acknowledged, and his desire to continue to be the best teacher possible.