Paul F. Kemp -- English Teacher

Welcome to my web page.   Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments at

A WAY OF LIFE.   Teaching is the noblest of all professions—a calling to serve youth with passion, humility, caring, and wholehearted dedication.  Teaching is not “just a job,” but a way of life centered in helping young people learn and grow as whole human beings.  No vocation in the world is more important, more inspiring, or more joyful than teaching.

A BELIEF IN ALL LEARNERS.   Outstanding teachers believe strongly that all of their students are capable of substantial learning and growth, not only those who have achieved noteworthy academic success in the past.  The finest teachers refuse to "give up" on students who learn less swiftly or less independently than their peers; instead, they find creative ways to reach those who may need extra support or an alternative approach.  Believing in the capacity and desire of all students to learn is an essential foundation for successful teaching.

A COMMITMENT TO DIFFERENTIATION.   Outstanding teachers strive to address the range of skills and interests found in a typical classroom: They maintain high expectations for all students; they create meaningful formative assessments to trace students' growth over time; they help students to define individual learning goals; they organize students into collaborative teams based upon their strengths and areas for improvement; they offer a diverse menu of activities and authentic assessments based upon individual students' needs;  and they offer students meaningful choices of how to express their mastery of new skills and knowledge.  They understand that each student deserves a challenging and enriching educational experience responsive to his or her unique learning trajectory.

A GIFT FOR CARING AND EMPATHY.   Outstanding teachers care genuinely about their students as whole human beings.  They invest themselves in their students' learning and growth and celebrate when their students experience success.  They also provide comfort and perspective when students experience challenges.  The bonds between students and their teacher-mentors can be very powerful.  As Harry Wong has written, "Students won't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

AN APPRECIATION FOR DIVERSITY AND COMMUNITY.   Outstanding teachers strive to build classroom communities that are welcoming, affirming, and inclusive, that celebrate the individuality and strengths of all students, that explore and affirm diverse perspectives, and that communicate a sense of belonging.  Diversity is a gift to be celebrated, not a challenge to be overcome.

A FOCUS UPON INTRINSIC MOTIVATION.   Outstanding teachers strive to tap into their students' innate curiosity and desire to understand the world.  They provide a classroom environment that is challenging and highly engaging, that explores meaningful questions, that elicits ethical reflection, that connects to students' own lives and passions.  They understand that learning can and should be a thrilling process: confounding at times, frustrating at times, but also incredibly charged and illuminating and fulfilling.  The finest teachers draw upon and foster their students' intrinsic motivation rather than relying upon extrinsic rewards and punishments to induce learning.

A COMMITMENT TO STUDENT-CENTERED ACTIVE LEARNING.   Outstanding teachers recognize that students are not passive vessels into which teachers pour knowledge and skills; rather, students are active "meaning makers" engaged in building new understandings, new competencies, and new questions.  Teachers who value active learning environments often encourage their students to explore open-ended, genuinely contested questions; they facilitate thoughtful and probing discussions that investigate multiple points of view; they encourage students to learn and grow as members of collaborative teams, benefiting from the free exchange of ideas among peers; they encourage students to draw meaningful connections--between prior knowledge and new ideas, between one academic discipline and the next, between personal experience and the topic at hand.  A student-centered classroom encourages students, rightly, to feel ownership and pleasure in the process of learning. 

A PASSION FOR LIFELONG LEARNING.   Outstanding teachers recognize that they, too, are learners.  They read widely and enjoy the opportunity to share ideas with their colleagues, always seeking new understandings and new paths to student success. 

A COMMITMENT BEYOND THE CLASSROOM.   Outstanding teachers seek opportunities to build relationships with students beyond the classroom, in roles as coaches, activity sponsors, mentors, or simply audience members.  They recognize that students learn as much on the field, court, studio, or stage as they do between traditional classroom walls. 

A GIFT FOR TRANSFORMING LIVES.   Above all, outstanding teachers remain steadfastly focused upon their central mission: to inspire, challenge, support, and nurture students as they learn and grow.  Beyond having a mastery of the "science" of teaching, good teachers must love kids, pure and simple, and have a true passion for helping students to learn.  When knowledge, skill, and passion intersect, the finest teachers can truly transform students' lives.

THE ARTISTRY OF GREAT TEACHING.   Moments of beauty, grace, and power are found daily in the classrooms of the finest teachers.  It is impossible to overvalue their impact.  As John Steinbeck has affirmed, the finest teachers in our midst are great artists—perhaps the greatest of all artists, for their medium is not paint or canvas or stage or curtain, but the human mind and spirit.