KENOSHA, Wis. — Harborside Academy world history teacher Dave Underwood was in shock when informed he was named EL Education’s Teacher of the Year.
Most others were not.
“I think a lot of people probably weren’t surprised,” Harborside Academy student Ella Wood said.
The Kenosha resident will receive the Klingenstein Teacher Award on Dec. 2 in Denver. It’s presented annually to an outstanding teacher who brings to life the spirit and values of Expeditionary Learning in the classroom.
EL Education is the Harborside model. It’s essentially learning, by doing.
Students are challenged to work outside of their comfort zone in a team-first environment. Each student is assigned to their own crew.
“We are crew, not passengers,” Underwood said. “When you’re on crew, everyone is rowing. No one is sitting back. They’re all rowing towards a goal. That’s the dynamic of (Expeditionary Learning).”
Underwood is in his 26th year in education. He was a former elementary teacher and principal at Christian Life before joining the church ministry.
He eventually found his true calling as a middle school teacher.
“There comes a point in your career where you feel like you landed,” Underwood said. “This is it. I’m in my place and I am really grateful for that.”