Thaddeaus Mohler has worked at Craig-Houghton Elementary School for 20 years, but last school year marked the beginning of his teaching career.
"I had some other things going on where I couldn't finish my education as soon as I wanted, and you eventually get in a rut when one year turns into five and so on," said the fifth-grade social studies teacher. "It took me getting married eight years ago to finish my education.
"My wife and I made a pact that if we got married, she would finish her education and then I would finish mine. Now we're both teaching. We've always loved kids."
Mr. Mohler received his bachelor of arts degree in history from Augusta State University in 2008 and is working on his masters of art in teaching.
"This is my dream job," he said. "It's hard to express the joy I feel now that I'm finally a teacher."
During his previous 19 years at Craig-Houghton, Mr. Mohler worked as a physical education coach, rebuilt some of the school's computers and for three years oversaw in-house discipline.
"The biggest transition for me was going from being the in-house discipline person to being a teacher," he said. "As the discipline person, I had to be the hammer, so to speak. So when I went upstairs to teach, a lot of the kids were expecting that."
"I had to change, and I wanted to change. I got tired of being the bad guy. I've gotten to be a softy now. I'll break down in a second. However, I have my rules, and they respect them. We respect each other."
Mr. Mohler uses a variety of teaching techniques, including PowerPoint presentations, history films, hands-on activities and rap songs.
"If I was to walk into my classroom and say, 'Open the book and turn to Page 30,' it would drive me crazy and I would lose the attention of most of the students. Instead, I want to make learning fun," he said.
This year, he challenged his pupils by telling them that if they all passed the social studies portion of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, he would wear a dress to school.
They did, and he fulfilled his promise the last week of school.
"It was me, rough me, doing something like that, and they appreciated it. It showed that I care about them," he said. "It's about the kids. I'll do whatever it takes to motivate them to learn."
Reach Nikasha Dicks at (706) 823-3336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TEACHER OF THE MONTH: THADDEAUS MOHLER
FAMILY: Wife, Tasha Mohler
SCHOOL: Craig-Houghton Elementary School
GRADE TAUGHT: Fifth
YEARS AS A TEACHER: One
WHAT HE ENJOYS ABOUT TEACHING: "I like the interaction with the children. They want to be loved, and they want to be understood and respected. A lot of kids are, but there are those few that, if I make a connection with them through the classroom, it makes a world of difference."
WHAT IS COMMUNITY COUNTS?
Community Counts is The Augusta Chronicle's collaborative effort to benefit the communities in our area. This multitiered program of involvement includes recognition of outstanding youths, teachers, volunteers and public servants in the area.