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Trevor Todd '16

June 26, 2017

UNCW alumnus Trevor Todd ’16 is an adventurer. He finds his groove in summer, taking advantage of the sun and a teacher’s break between semesters to run marathons, kayak, and surf the waves of Wrightsville and Carolina beaches. However, his true joy comes from shaping the young minds of his second-grade students at Castle Hayne Elementary School.

“My first year of teaching has been great so far,” Todd said before the school year ended. “My students are awesome, and this is a year I will never forget.” 

It’s this kind of energy that drives Todd, spurring him onward through the unexpected challenges of the classroom. Todd came to UNCW as a transfer student from Cape Fear Community College, graduating from the Watson College of Education like his mother before him. Yet, as Todd puts knowledge into practice, he recalls the UNCW faculty members who helped shape him as a student.

“Gerry Zinner and Kathleen Schlichting were my two biggest inspirations,” Todd said. “They taught me how to be a teacher with innovative ideas and compassion for students. They were always there when I needed someone wise to talk to. I am forever grateful for their influence in my life.” Schlichting is an associate professor and Zinner, a lecturer, in the Department of Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle, Literacy and Special Education.

According to Todd, being a first-year teacher is difficult, constantly surrounded as he is by teachers with much more experience. Instruction from former faculty has armed him with the skills to field these challenges and make daily planning a little less stressful. Todd also takes cues from his mom, LeAnn Todd '89. Though she is no longer teaching herself, Todd uses her as a sounding board for how to improve his craft. She and Todd discuss different teaching tactics, and Todd frequently welcomes her into his classroom to work with his students.

Regardless of the struggles of being a new teacher, Todd is content teaching what he views as the perfect age group: second grade, an age when he says kids become more independent and start taking charge of their learning. 

“I love being a teacher and going to work every day,” he said. “I get excited to see kids have that light bulb moment when they finally conceptually understand the topic I’ve been teaching. It brings me joy to see a student excited about their education.”

-- Caitlin Taylor ’18M