Social Studies teacher and girls’ soccer coach, works to create an involved class for his students.
A passion for educating is what every great teacher needs. Social Studies teacher Garien Behling not only has a devotion to education, but also a love for the subject he teaches.
Before coming to Thomas Jefferson High School, Behling taught Special Education at West Middle School, where he taught all subjects to a small group of students to help them succeed. “I love to be around people, help them, and I want to leave the world a better place than I found it,” Behling expressed. Behling has been teaching for ten years, with some of those years at Bruce Randolph School, before coming to TJ three years ago. “TJ offered me opportunities to learn new things with new and different kids,” Behling reflected.
Growing up in a low income family, Behling was still encouraged to go to college, but had to work his way through schooling as a custom plastic fabricator. He made different products ranging from card holders to chairs. “I like to work with my hands, I like to build things, fix things, and take them apart,” he explained. Behling now holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Metropolitan State University of Denver, and a Master of Science in Agroforestry from the University of Missouri.
Behling’s history lessons exhibit his love for storytelling. He stated that he loves listening to and telling stories. Behling brings passion to teaching with his favorite story of all, history. “History is just one big story, and it’s got all the things. It’s got comedy, it’s got sadness, it’s got drama, it’s got all the elements that make up great stories,” he commented. This passion is passed on to his students at TJ and makes them want to learn about history the same way his social studies teachers did for him. Some of his current and previous students say that he is extremely engaged every day and has a very determined personality. Sophomore Geronimo Campbell said, “I think that he is a great teacher who has lots of energy and helps students.” Apart from being a good teacher who brings meaning to the subjects he teaches, students say that he is understanding and kind. Spartans consider him as a role model and a friend. “He’s a great role model, fantastic teacher, and has an awesome taste in music. Rate: 10/10 teacher,” sophomore Erin Maloof said.
Although Behling is passionate about his teaching, not all of his time is spent telling stories. In the past, Behling coached soccer at his previous high school and is excited to work with fellow Social Studies teacher Matt McHenry this spring at TJ coaching the girls’ soccer team. They look to help student athletes succeed holistically and hold them accountable to the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSSA) regulations as well. Outside of school Behling likes to run almost every day, even though he hated the activity when he was in school. Now he is an avid runner, running 5Ks and 10Ks when the opportunities come up. He stated that he “found the joy of running and of exercise, and strength and conditioning, and being in really good shape makes you feel better.”
Another one of Behling’s passions is spending time with his family and seeing his son Griggs growing up. Griggs is almost 18 months old and is learning to walk and talk. Behling jubilantly said, “[he] definitely understands … what blows me away is that he knows what we are talking about,” and he is excited for when his son will be able to communicate back to him.
Bushidō (“the way of warriors”) is a Japanese collective term that originates from the samurai moral values, most commonly stressing some combination of sincerity, frugality, loyalty, martial arts master, and honor until death. Behling may not be a master of martial arts, but his dedication to not only his profession, but also to his students is the definition of a samurai. He would play a character known as Samurai Jack whenever he role-played in Dungeons and Dragons. He felt the need to make that character completely good natured, even if it might cost him in certain situations. Although Behling thought it was hard to live up to Samurai Jack’s good spirit, he succeeded and thought that it was a good experience to have.
Behling has the skill of making history an entertaining class and keep his students interested on the topics. Behling is a great person as well as a great teacher and has a bright future teaching. Hopefully he will remain a Spartan for many years to come.