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Teacher Spotlight - Greg Baird, Murrieta, CA (April 2018)

Name: Greg Baird
School Name: Murrieta Valley High School
City, State: Murrieta, CA
Subjects Taught: Modern World History, U.S. Government
Grades Taught: 10, 12
No. of Years Teaching: 29

As a teacher with 29 years of teaching experience, Greg Baird has spent 28 of those years teaching students at Murrieta Valley High School (MVHS) in Murrieta, California. MVHS is a four-year comprehensive public school that has been named a California Distinguished School awardee and is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Baird began teaching at MVHS in 1990, the year the public school was founded – indeed, Baird says he was the first teacher hired there! “I’m proud to be associated with the excellent teachers in my school, district, state and nation,” Baird says. “All teachers have a tremendous impact on their students for their entire lives.” Today, Baird teaches Modern World History and U.S. Government to sophomore and senior high school students in addition to serving as Chairman of the school’s History Social Science Department. “History and Social Science teachers deal with the essential issue of people forming communities,” Baird says. “This is why our classes are so important in understanding the past and helping to forge the future.”

Modern Problems

As a social studies educator at a public high school, Baird says Common Core standards are definitely changing the way History and Social Science classes are taught. “It’s not so much about the learning all the facts, but being able to analyze information and communicate clearly.” Since his Modern World History class covers hundreds of years, Baird says he doesn’t expect students to remember all the facts. “However, I hope that students can relate to characters from the past and see them as human beings who had to make tough decisions just like us,” he adds. Baird says his greatest challenge is battling bias, whether in the media or in the classroom. “Politics in our country is very polarized right now, and many students get caught up in the rhetoric,” Baird says. “They have a hard time seeing issues and individuals from another point of view.”

Positive, Not Punitive

Baird says his teaching philosophy is founded on a positive classroom management strategy, with the goal of responding to students in positive rather than punitive ways. “Students who are engaged in the lesson rarely cause behavior problems,” Baird says. “I strive to cultivate positive relationships with my students, and create interesting lesson plans that challenge students. This tends to keep the kids learning and out of trouble. What does Baird hope students remember about him and his class? “Most students will not remember all of the checks and balances, but I hope to prepare all my students to be productive and informed citizens,” Baird says. “And I hope they remember me as a caring adult.”