When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School’s Chaz Hall came to a personal crossroads in 2008, he had to decide what he wanted to make of his professional career, teaching made the most sense.
“I know I wanted to work in an area where I could help people. I know I always wanted to work in the area where serving is the top priority and I felt that teaching would be suitable,” recalls Hall, a Lamar University graduate who originally majored in Business Management and Marketing.
This year, Hall, who teaches history , was recognized as Teacher of the Year, both at King Middle and across the entire Beaumont Independent School District.
Hall’s interest in history came as a natural outcome from his love of reading. Ever since he was a young kid, he has been an avid reader and believes that history bridges the gap between the present and how everything started and opens a door to become a part of the student’s life.
“I think that is a very good entry way into some of these kids’ life, because some of them are technologically advanced and I think what happens sometimes is that they’re so technical that they forget history and they need something to refer back to and I think history does a great job of bridging that gap and that’s been a real blessing to me,” explains Hall.
His career as an educator began in 2008 here in Beaumont. He first taught high school, moving later to Port Arthur, where he became an elementary school teacher. Before coming to MLK, he had the opportunity to work in early childhood programs. During that period, he also earned his Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from LAMAR UNIVERSITY?.
Having the opportunity to teach students in the MLK community brings a unique chance to relate to his roots. Hall explains that many of the young men he teaches now are the sons and daughters of his former classmates.
“ It’s like looking at my classmates all over again”, said Hall. “A lot of the same traits, a lot of the same habits I saw within my classmates, those are the same traits I see within my students, and it helps me to better relate to them, to learn when to push, learn when to pull back, learn when to show tough love, know when to show encouragement and then the most important thing is to know when to listen.”
A year after Green Dot Public Schools partnered with the Beaumont Independent School District to improve academic standards at MLK, Hall sees the positive changes implemented at the Middle School and has high hopes for the future. This has helped not only the students, he believes, but teachers as well.
“I think that Green Dot is helping implement some things in the classroom that are new but aren’t foreign to me as well. They’ve helped me to retool my skills in the classroom where I can better communicate with the children, I can better check behind myself on the content that I’m teaching as well,” said Hall. “We use this phrase called check for understanding and making sure that what we do, instructions are clear. At first, I thought it was for the students that I was teaching, but also realized that it was for myself to check for understanding to make sure that what I studied is the same information that I was delivering to the students.”
While Hall didn’t expect to be chosen as Teacher of the Year, he says the recognition makes him realize that all the time invested in preparing his courses was important and has brought him satisfaction.
“In a way its kind of helped me realize how much it was worth the investment, how much it was worth tough days,” adds Hall. “A lot of people don’t talk about the days you go home and it’s just tough. I think those things are always swept under the rug. Those are tThe things that make me a good teacher, a quality teacher, were the tough days of me being able to stick it there and being able to fight through those difficult moments, where I had to navigate different things. and I think a lot of that has come through my community of support”.