Aldrich is proud of work he does with APUSH kids

Aldrich gleams with pride, reflecting back on his students and extensive teaching career.

Pham, Thuy

Aldrich gleams with pride, reflecting back on his students and extensive teaching career.

Jenny Nguyen, Copy Editor

The mention of US history typically entails bored groans or glazed eyes.  However, this is not the case in Jon Aldrich’s AP US History classes, where every lesson is accompanied by laughter and attentive students.

Before he was a teacher, however, Aldrich worked in corporate sales for a pharmaceutical company called SmithKline Beecham. There, he sold various health and beauty aids to stores like Kroger and Drug Emporium. “I liked corporate sales. I made good money for somebody who was 28 years old,” he explained, “but it wasn’t fulfilling for me, and truthfully, I went into teaching because I wanted to make a difference.”

Proceeding to pursue a job in education, Aldrich began teaching in Gwinnett County at Meadowcreek and Central Gwinnett High School. He was later transferred to an overcrowded and understaffed Collins Hill in 1994, where he would teach social studies for 22 years before moving to Parkview in 2016. “The first year when I transferred [to Parkview], I didn’t like it very much. I didn’t because it was just different… but the kids made it easier… It was the kids in my class that helped me through that year.”

With an extensive and successful teaching career marked by awards and offers of promotion, Aldrich attributed his affinity for teaching to a multitude of things, one of which includes his ability to encourage students. “I would say, as a former football coach, I definitely motivate kids in different ways. Different kids are motivated by different things, so you got to know what kind of buttons to push, or so to speak.” Consequently, he seeks to attune and adjust his teaching methods to the needs of each of his students, making good use of his observation skills in order to empathize with and care for them. “I’m pretty perceptive. In other words, I can read people pretty well, and I use that more than anything. When I teach, I try to read kids, and so if you’re having a bad day, I’ll probably know it just by your body language. And so I’ll probably ask you about it. I would say that I care about the kids and [their] well-being.”

One of his goals as a teacher is to make his classes interactive and fun, which he accomplishes by bolstering course curriculum with memorable simulations and humorous role-plays. One such entertaining activity is a sock hop event, which he hosts at the conclusion of every school year. All of his students dress up in 50’s fashion and dance a choreographed routine in the cafeteria during lunch, much to the amusement of both the dancers and onlookers.

His zeal for American history also shines through in his lessons and serves to captivate students’ attention. “I think teaching history is important all the time. US history is important. When people say history doesn’t repeat itself, I don’t necessarily agree. It may not repeat itself specifically, but there are patterns that come back and repeat,” Aldrich noted, “I still think that the United States, for all its flaws, is still a great place to live… You know, I don’t care what color you are, what gender you are, what religion you are—there’s a place for you. I look at my students of all different ethnicities and cultures, and I’m glad [they’re] here.”

In the ways of tough love, Aldrich also strives to push his students to work harder, constantly urging them to put forth their best effort and earn a natural A in his classes. “I truly care about the kids [and] how their performance is in my class… I want the students to do well in my class because if you do well in the class, you’re going to get more out of it, and you’re going to do well on the test. Now, will there be some more work involved? Yeah, but it’s like anything: you get what you put into it.”

Though he is one of the more recent additions to Parkview, Aldrich is a seasoned veteran in the teaching world, as is evidenced by his charisma and skill. More commendable, though, is the fact that his passion extends well beyond US history. It lies in fostering the potential in all of his students, and he understands that there is greater room in his role as a teacher to impact and mold the younger generation. “Like one of my buddies said the other night when we went bowling, ‘You know, in some ways, you have a good job because at the end of your life, you’ll be able to be proud of what you did,’ and I truly believe that. I can, in the end, go, ‘Yeah, you know, it was good.’”