New History teacher Trevor Riley has found his place at FHC

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After experiencing his first semester at FHC, new history teacher Trevor Riley couldn’t be more excited for his second semester of teaching. 

Being the “new student” can be hard in many aspects, but being the “new teacher” can be just as hard. It can be scary and stressful. New students. New coworkers. A completely new workplace. Riley has accepted this title and has enjoyed his short time in this new atmosphere. 

“[I’ve] loved [my first semester at FHC],” Riley said. “It’s been great—the students, the staff I work with, and my department [are] awesome. As far as the makeup of the school I honestly don’t know if I can imagine a much more ideal place, I really enjoy it. The first semester has been great and I’m pretty excited for the second semester.”

Growing up, Riley was somewhat surrounded by teachers. His dad was a college professor and his grandma and aunt were both teachers. Originally he wasn’t planning on following in their footsteps, instead, he wanted to major in business, but he does believe that teaching was something that he was “pulled towards.” 

He didn’t quite realize that teaching was the right way to go for him until about halfway through his junior year of college. He knew that he didn’t want to “potentially end up working in a cubicle” and didn’t think that would make him happy. Riley changed his major late, which ultimately lead him to add on an extra semester to his time in college, and looking back on his decision he couldn’t be more satisfied. 

“Education was something I had always had an interest in, so I switched over and I’m very happy now that I did,” Riley said. “As stressful as it can be being a teacher, it’s nice to also have the autonomy and dependence in your classroom.” 

Riley was specifically interested in history because of his time spent in school and the connections he made to it. Ever since he can remember, he has always had more of an interest in history than other subjects. 

“In middle school, we did a unit on World War 2 and the holocaust,” Riley said. “We watched Schindler’s List at the time and it’s all black and white except for some color. There’s a young, little girl who wears a little red dress. At the time my sister was roughly the same age. I just remember making a connection and having this empathy [and] feeling that it could have been someone in my family.”

History became so much more than the past to Riley. He became passionate about it because these things happened to real people. People that could have been his family. And even though he had liked his other classes, he never felt the same “human connection” as he did with history. 

When Riley was first getting into teaching, he spent a good amount of time teaching middle school in Las Vegas, Nevada. But considering his wife is from West Michigan, and it’s where her whole family is from, they decided to pack up and move.

“My wife is originally from West Michigan and we had my son, my first child in Las Vegas, but it was just her and I out there,” Riley said. “We wanted to be closer to family.”

“If you don’t understand a lot of what’s happened, it’s hard to understand how we got to where we are.””

— Trevor Riley

Despite teaching middle school for a long time Riley had come to realize that he wanted to transition to teaching high school. He wanted to teach students that were older and he is glad he made that decision. 

“I’ve had a lot of joy with [teaching high school] and I think that kind of connects to my favorite part about teaching, especially in a high school,” Riley said. “[My favorite part] is just those interactions with students. When you’re able to teach a student and they actually get it, or even when they’re struggling. I enjoy working through that process with a student if they’re struggling to understand things.” 

His hope for students is that they come into his class with an “openness about it.” He wants his students to be honest and to advocate for themselves. Riley wants students to be aware that if they are struggling he is willing to work with them. 

Riley understands that history can be boring and uninteresting at times, but strongly believes that it is an important topic to learn about for many different reasons, but the main one being humanity.

“If you don’t understand a lot of what’s happened, it’s hard to understand how we got to where we are,” Riley said. “The biggest thing is just the empathy piece of it. History is really the story of humanity, the story of people, and if we don’t understand the struggles and successes that as humans we’ve had, it’s easy to not have empathy for other people in the world.”