The new AP US History and US History teacher has already made himself a favorite amongst students.
After six years of working at Bruce Randolph in DPS, social studies teacher Garien Behling decided to make the move over to Thomas Jefferson High School. “I chose TJ because I was really excited about the culture that is at TJ,” explained Behling. Behling is excited to experience a new beginning where he hopes to fit in with the TJ community.
At a young age, Behling and his family moved from Illinois to Denver. As he grew up in Colorado, he was very active and loved the outdoors, and today enjoys fishing, hiking, and snowshoeing. During college, Behling worked as a custom plastic fabricator in order to keep a roof over his head. He attended Metropolitan State University of Denver and received his bachelor’s degree in History and Secondary Education. This degree has given him the chance to experience and teach new subjects such as AP US History (APUSH) and US History (US).
The biggest adjustment Behling has faced is that his former school included sixth through twelfth graders. He is happy that this student body is different and more mature at TJ. Behling was looking forward to teaching in an environment where there is a real sense of community. In just a little over a month this expectation was surpassed. “I’m really enjoying all the different types of students that I’m encountering, getting to know new people and teaching some new things, which keeps me on my toes, but it’s good,” described Behling.
In a short period of time students believe they have already learned a lot in his class. “Mr. Behling always teaches with so much energy and enthusiasm, it makes the class really interesting,” said junior Galen Street. Junior Ciara Dixon, a US history student, added, “I’ve learned many things in a little under two months that I didn’t expect to learn yet.” Behling teaches in a way that students can relate to, making it easier for students to learn the material.
Not only are these classes a learning experience for the students, they are a learning experience for Behling as well. “He was the unanimous choice after we watched all the teachers teach, so it was a collaborative decision that he was the best candidate available and he showed it not only in the interview but when we watched him teach,” said TJ’s athletic director Andrew Skari. He will expose his college knowlegde about US history to AP students, giving them a chance to use this information for the big exam in May. “Mr. Behling is constantly on me about staying organized so I am always motivated to keep up with the class and keep track of everything that I learn for the AP Exam in May,” expressed Street. For both of Behling’s classes he hopes that students take away a better knowledge of US history. “I think that it is very important because living here in America, that’s something that’s common to everybody. Even if you’re an immigrant, you know the history of these lands, and the events that have happened here still affect our lives today in many ways,” explained Behling.
Many teachers have different ways of teaching that they believe will work best for their students. Behling in particular has a unique style that students might not encounter in other classrooms. “There’s some challenges to teaching at Bruce Randolph, I think it makes you better, I think you either have to adapt and become great at what you do or you don’t survive in those tough buildings, so I felt like that experience was going to make him great here,” explained Skari. In Behling’s class, students have a chance to work together in small table groups. They weave through documents and analyze them in order to answer questions. If they stumble or fall down he is right there to pick them up and keep them on the right track. “Behling allows us to work in groups and every project he has given us he has done himself, so it’s great knowing that he takes time out of his day to do exactly what he asks of us to do. I feel that this way helps me understand better because I get great examples and ideas from Mr. Behling and my classmates,” said Dixon. Behling does a great job of relating material that students will understand and that they can use to tie together all the information that they are receiving.
Current students in Behling’s classes would recommend this class to others because it brings a level of excitement that is not present in average history classes. “It’s great having a laid back teacher who understands us as high school students, who makes learning fun,” described Dixon. Hopefully Behling is beginning a long lasting connection with the Spartan community.