Teacher of the Year: Douglas makes impact as teacher, mentor

James Douglas, who teachers all aspects of criminal justice at Kenedy High School, was voted by his peers for Teacher of the Year and nominated by a student for the Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction award from the National Society of High School Scholars. (Photo by Pink Rivera)

Everyone knows they can count on James Douglas for help.

It still came as a complete shock to him when a student nominated him for an award through the National Society of High Scholars.

“He’s a great teacher,” said junior Aricela Aguero. “His class is great and he’s very inspiring. His lessons are fun and interesting.”

Douglas received the Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction just weeks after receiving Teacher of the Year for Kenedy High School.

Teachers are sent a link and voting is completely anonymous and private.

“It feels great to be recognized by my peers,” said Douglas. “It’s not something that any teacher hopes or plans for. You come here and do your job the best you can and hope you can make a difference in your student’s life; not get an award.”

Douglas has been a criminal justice instructor for the last six years at Kenedy High School, as well as the attendance/truancy officer, NTHS advisor, home visit coordinator, and helps out with various other tasks when asked.

“He wears several hats,” said Felicia Gibson, secondary principal. “He’s very involved in the community and on campus. I know this year he had six preps and the students enjoy his classes because he shares his experiences and keeps it real with them.”

Before becoming a teacher — something he thought he would never do — he was a police officer and correctional officer at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. 

He is currently on the Kenedy City Council, reserve police officer for Karnes City Police Department, and is only a few classes shy of earning his doctorate in criminal justice.

His ultimate goal is to teach at the collegiate level.

“Both careers are very rewarding,” said Douglas. “Watching my students succeed and helping them take advantage of opportunities and get certifications to benefit them in their future makes everything worth it.”

Douglas teaches all classes on the criminal justice spectrum including forensic science, corrections, law, court systems.

Incoming students begin with “Principles of Law” and are immediately hooked. Many of Douglas’ students have begun a career at Karnes County Sheriff’s Office or as military officers.

Douglas also holds a level 3  commissioned security license and instructs senior level students. This gives them the opportunity to submit paperwork upon graduation and earn their security license as well. 

“Helping them with options for work and experience during college is something that’s very important to me,” he said. “You build that rapport and create bonds and relationships with these students over the years. I care about them a lot. I worry about them during breaks and hope they’re OK.”

“He’s very helpful and always willing to bend over backwards to help someone,” said Gibson. “He’s a hard worker and will do whatever you ask.”

Douglas said he is still in awe every time a student approaches him in a public setting months or years after graduating and thanks him for being their teacher.

“When they reach out to me or tell me how much of an impact I had on their life I know I’m where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to be doing,” said Douglas. “KISD is my home and I’m not going anywhere. I love teaching and being a mentor.”

•arivera@mysoutex.com•

 

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