This past week we recognized Coach Whetzel as the 2023 recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award. Travis Whetzel is a...
Second Grade Teacher
BS in Education, Carson-Newman College, TN; Master of Education, Old Dominion University, VA
years at CDS:
This is my 7th year
how many different places have you lived and what makes charleston special?
I’ve lived in 16 places, including 9 different states and 4 different countries. While I have wonderful memories of each place, Charleston is special for several reasons. First, I love Charleston’s weather! Also, this is an incredibly beautiful city overflowing with history, charm, and welcoming people. The aspect I find most important, though, is that so many members of my family are here. There’s a saying that “home is where your heart is.” Well, my heart is certainly here, and I feel very much at home in Charleston.
what is the greatest advantage of being part of a military family?
There are many advantages, but having life-long friends all over the world who’ve experienced many of the same ups and downs is pretty amazing. Also, our travels and experiences in the military have provided a unique perspective, allowing us to develop a very deep appreciation for how fortunate we are as Americans. We know our country isn’t perfect, but we are thankful for the freedoms we enjoy and the opportunities available. The National Anthem isn’t just a song for us. It’s a message of freedom, pride, unity, and hope. So, overall, the greatest advantage has been the sense of gratitude we feel for the people, experiences, and the country we represent.
what is your favorite lesson to teach? why?
That’s too hard to narrow down to one lesson! The social skills lessons we focus on at the beginning of the year are super important for me since they set the tone for the entire year. Before we can tackle academics, the necessity of treating each other with kindness and respect is critical, so those lessons are some of my favorites. I also LOVE talking with students about their writing since I get to see such growth! Writing letters to second graders and reading their responses makes me smile every time! Any math lesson where students are really thinking and effectively communicating about math concepts and problem solving is a favorite since that shows me they really understand. However, my all-time favorite lessons are the ones where someone says, “Oh, now I get it!”
what is your favorite book and why?
My favorite short, read-aloud is, Giraffes Can’t Dance, by Giles Andreae. I love the message that everyone can succeed in his or her own way. I think it’s my job to help each child find the right music and enjoy the dance!