Mike Cantwell nominated Teacher of the Year
Wrestling coach and science teacher Mike Cantwell has a simple goal: to form relationships with his students.
“The district pushes the three R’s: rigor, relevance, and relationships,” he said. “I just do it backwards. It’s all about building relationships with kids.” Cantwell has worked with teenagers for 16 years, and knows that to get on their good side, he has to be funny.
One morning, in the middle of a lesson, his phone rings. “Pablo’s Pizza Palace!” Cantwell said enthusiastically into the receiver. His students laugh, and he smiles as the person at the other end of the phone takes his attention.
“I have to make sure kids trust me, or else they won’t listen when I teach,” he said. “I try to get to know every kid.”
Cantwell has been nominated as Teacher of the Year because his students trust him and because he is so involved in Gregori actvities. He’s the announcer at home football games, advises the biking club, and participates in rallies, flash mobs, and lunchtime activities.
When asked why he chose to move to Gregori from his long time home (14 years) of Davis High School, he said simply, “It’s the chance to start a new school.” He knew that chances like that don’t come around often, and he wanted to be a part of it.
“We chose Mr. Cantwell as Teacher of the Year because of his willingness to participate and help create Gregori High School,” Principal Jeff Albritton said. Albritton and the administrative board choose the nominee each year.
Cantwell said he never thought that an honor like that would apply to him, especially since he’s typically thought of as a coach first, teacher second. But he applies the same techniques to coach his wrestlers as he does to teach his science classes year-round: rigor, relevance, and relationships.
“Mr. Cantwell’s unique in that he’s built a very successful wrestling program,” Albritton said. Last year, though they were sophomores, the wrestlers competed at the varsity level. At the end of the season, they wrestled Davis High and beat them to knock them out of contention for the league title.
“My wrestlers listen to me because they trust me,” Cantwell said. “I have to believe that I know what I’m doing so they do.” It’s the same thing when he teaches. He can make his lectures as hard as he wants because his students trust him and like him.
His favorite part of being a teacher? When former students come back to visit, or send him an email, saying how much his biology class has helped them in college. He loves hearing that he helped to prepare them for tough college courses.
Cantwell doesn’t plan on changing. “As long as test scores are high, I’ll keep teaching this way. Kids want to learn, whether they know it or not.”