In a continuation of The Chronicle’s Teacher of the Year series, this week’s feature is James Peach of Mt. Juliet High School.
James Peach teaches visual production at MJHS, where he recently completed his fourth year. He taught English one year before moving to his current position.
Peach attended Middle Tennessee State University where he received a degree in English, with a minor in writing and concentration in secondary education. Though he has only been teaching for four years, he has broad experience across the communication field. He worked at multiple radio stations while in college, and has done professional video work with Down Syndrome Association and other businesses.
Once he began teaching at Mt. Juliet, he became interested the A/V production program. As a first year teacher, he believed that associating with additional programs at the school helped to increase value outside of the classroom.
He enjoyed teaching English, especially having the chance to connect with different places in the building through his students.
There are times that teaching can be hard and stressful, he said, because so much is out of his control. However, he found ways to connect with his students and help them understand each other.
“I developed a reputation in the department my first year of elevating the tone of the conversation when things were difficult,” he said. “Helping move things in a positive direction, helping people relate to each other that were having difficulty understanding each other.”
His focus of understanding others is something he strives to teach his students, and moving to the production program gave him the opportunity to bring that skill out of his classroom and share it with the entire school.
He teaches multiple levels of production, ranging from basic concepts and learning about equipment to ethics and storytelling. His class is responsible for the news network, creating content for school and surrounding community. They also livestream school events and produce special content like student athlete signings.
Something that Peach wants to instill in his students is how to tell a story through their creations. Even as an English teacher, he focused on having students cultivate an interest in other people.
“My typical philosophy in English and in audio/visual production is that everything we can do as a species, everything we learn scientifically and mathematically is great, but until we understand ourselves and understand each other, none of it really means anything,” said Peach.
“If we don’t have each other, we don’t have anything,” he said.
This also translates to working with his colleague at MJHS. Connection enables collaboration, and everyone at the school wants to help each other. Peach gives his time and effort in supporting his fellow teachers and does what he can for as many people as possible.
Mt. Juliet High School, he said, is a very welcoming and kind place.
“I think the people of Mt. Juliet High School do want to help each other, and I think that’s why I really like being there,” he said. “I can’t imagine being anywhere else.”
Wilson County’s Teacher of the Year will be announced at a banquet in July. The original date was rescheduled due to safety guidelines and health concerns for the ongoing pandemic.