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North Central Kansas

Smoky Valley’s James Henderson – Teacher of the Month – Presented by Salina Ortho

James Henderson is a math teacher and football coach at Smoky Valley High School. Henderson started his teaching and coaching career in the fall of 1987. Like many of his peers, it was a teacher who influenced him to enter the profession.

“My high school math teacher was a tremendous influence on me. Coincidentally, I grew up living across the street from him. Also, my father was a savvy businessman and really impressed upon me how important it was to be good at math to be successful in almost everything,” said Henderson.

There are many things coach Henderson enjoys about being an educator.

“What I enjoy most about being an educator is developing positive relationships with the students and my colleagues,” said Henderson.

Since the spring of 2020, teaching and coaching have taken on a new look.

“The current conditions have made it extremely difficult to teach math. I like to monitor my students as they work and provide specific feedback when they are in the classroom. The immediate feedback that you can provide them in person is so crucial for their learning. Most of the time, in a remote setting, it just isn’t feasible to provide that necessary immediate feedback,” said Henderson.

Teaching in the classroom and on the football, field are one in the same for Henderson.

“Teaching is coaching, and coaching is teaching. Yes, you can carry techniques from the classroom onto the football field and the opposite is also true. Of course, I’m not teaching my math students to block and tackle. However, I am teaching both the math students and the football players how to be successful in the game of life,” said Henderson. ““I’ve been coaching and teaching in the Smoky Valley District for 32 years.”

Henderson offers this advice to any student considering teaching as their profession.

“I know it’s cliche, “They don’t care how much you know and until they know how much you care.”

In his free time Henderson enjoys working out when time allows it.

“I wish I could push myself like I did when I was 25, but I do okay for an old man,” said Henderson.

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