The Jack of All Trades


Photo Credit: Emily Rosales

For someone who did not show interest in being a teacher when he was younger, teaching three different subjects marks a significant change in his passion for teaching. Brandon Austin, AP European History teacher, sponsors some of the most demanding clubs and organizations at Lake Ridge. While giving lectures about the Colombian Exchange, Austin coaches the Lake Ridge Academic Decathlon team, and could also be sponsoring an upcoming history course, AP Comparative Government, proposed by one of his students. 

When it comes to teaching around 100 students or more a day, many teachers reach a certain level of exhaustion and can become overwhelmed. But for or Austin, spending time with his students is the best part of his job and something he always looks forward to.

“The best part about this job is when you’re doing something with the kids. This other stuff is no good. Anytime you get to do something with kids its a good thing because the kids are the only part of this job that’s any fun at all,” said Austin.

On top of his history class responsibilities, Austin also coaches Lake Ridge’s award winning Academic Decathlon, AcaDec, team. For someone who has coached Acadec for more than a decade, it is still something that intrigues him. To Austin, seeing his kids progress gives him hope they will make it to the state competition this year.

“I’ve done AcaDec for more than a decade and we’ve been to state over half of those years whether it was Legacy or [at Lake Ridge], and AcaDec is one of my favorite things to do because you have one theme every year and then there’s ten parts to that theme, and so you work the whole summer and first semester working on the ten parts learning as much as you can about the economics, the music, and the art of whatever your theme is. I have a really nice team this year. If they keep trending, they’ll be one of my best teams ever,” said Austin.

Chris Ricks, sophomore, is participating in AcaDec. For Ricks, AcaDec is a very challenging sport, but Austin always brings out the fun and makes the club feel like less of a chore.

“AcaDec is a really hard and challenging sport, especially if you have a bunch of other extracurricular activities because it’s hard to balance them out. I’m also a swimmer so like every other day I’m at the natatorium with one competition or another. Doing that and AcaDec has been stressing me out, but it’s like Mr. Austin always finds a way to make it less stressful and more chill,” said Ricks.

AcaDec is one of the most challenging clubs at Lake Ridge because of the applications of street-smarts along with book-smarts. However, Austin believes that shouldn’t be a reason why they can’t all have fun.  

“Its fun. You get to compete, you get nervous for them, and it’s just like being a coach of a sport, but it’s just a nerd sport. We are not athletes, we’re decathletes,” said Austin.

If it is approved, Austin will be sponsoring a new history class at Lake Ridge, AP Comparative Government. This class came about because one of his AP Euro students, sophomore, Laura Yon pitched him the idea. Even though he doesn’t know if the school will go through with their suggestion, Austin is open to teaching anything.

“I’ve taught pretty much every AP history class there is, with the exception of Comparative Government, and so Laura actually came to me and said ‘Hey if i can get kids to take this will you teach this?’ and I said if Mrs. Gates lets me, sure. So I don’t know if that’s gonna happen, but I’ll do anything. I don’t mind. I like doing new stuff. It keeps it fresh,” said Austin.

Having always been a fan of history and politics, Yon decided to try and get a history class, AP Comparative Government, started at Lake Ridge.

“I’ve always just been a fan of politics and government as well, and I thought that maybe starting a class would get more people that have that same interest to want to join too. Hopefully word will get out, and it could be something that all the schools in our area could start too,” said Yon.

To Yon, Austin is someone who she thought would best be able to teach the class because of his love for teaching and his same interest in politics.

“Having Mr. Austin throughout the year has been really fun, and we share a lot of the same interests and opinions in government and stuff. He’s a really cool teacher and I’ve always looked up to him,” said Yon.

Although Austin is bombarded with teaching his classes along with his extracurricular courses, he doesn’t mind teaching multiple things at a time, as long as it’s something he loves to do.

“If you’re gonna teach as long as I have, you have to change up what you do. You can’t do the same thing every day you’ll get bored. I love teaching, it’s my favorite thing to do and it’s my hobby. Just happens to be my job too,” Austin said.