Getting to Know Mr. Vanderford
Hello again! This is Mr. Vanderford - and this page is all about letting the members of the Luella community get to know me a little better. I've been teaching for quite a few years now, and it has been my experience that the "meeting of the minds" that students and their teachers typically need in order to make the most of their educational partnership often begins with something that has little, if anything, to do with the classroom. It may be a shared interest, or a shared experience, or a common element in their backgrounds - but, whatever it is, it personalizes the student-teacher relationship. That being said, this page is all about sharing a few things about myself that might open some of those potential doors - in the hopes that, if I "cast [my] bread upon the waters," I may just find that it returns to me.
I am a Georgia native, born and raised here. My family lived in several different parts of the state during my childhood and teenage years, and that was due primarily to my father's work in the ministry. [He became pastor of his first church three years before I was born, and continued in that work throughout my years growing up at home (and beyond).] I returned home to Georgia after graduating from college because I wanted to be near my family, and so it is that I have spent almost my entire adult life in the south metro-Atlanta area. My ties to the local community became even closer in July, 2000, though, when my wife and I got married; after all, she was born, raised, and went to school here in Henry County. We consider ourselves tremendously blessed that we have all of our immediate family members (parents, siblings, etc.) living in this area.
My extended family is also very close-knit, and you can learn a good deal about me by looking at the "common bonds" (beyond blood) that many of us share. As I noted above, my father has been in the ministry for more than 50 years now - the vast majority of those in active pastoral work - and there are many other church leaders (including one other ordained minister) in the family. To say only that faith was an essential cornerstone of my upbringing would be a tremendous understatement - and I am grateful to be able to say that it is still a foundational element in my life today. A love of (and some degree of ability in) music is also a common familial trait, and, in my case, that has been expressed through a wide variety of activities, including extensive experience in both instrumental and vocal performance. And, finally, while it was never my intent during my formative years to go into "the family business," that is indeed just where I ended up. You see, when I joined the teaching profession, I became the 7th member of my family (in just 2 generations) to work in education. (The fact that other members of the family have joined the profession in the years since I did means that the number is now into double digits.) Needless to say, my professional experiences have given me a whole new appreciation for the work that I watched my father and mother do during my years growing up at home. (Both of my parents are now retired, but my father was a math and, later, special ed teacher, while my mother spent the vast majority of her years in education as an English teacher.)
My academic and professional history covers too wide a scope to address anything more than the basics here. I attended a public high school here in Georgia, and my "career" there would definitely be considered a successful one, highlighted by a variety of academic achievements. In part because of those achievements, I was blessed to be offered a tremendous opportunity - and so it was that, the fall after I graduated high school, I enrolled as a freshman at Harvard University. I was originally a Government "concentrator" - an appropriate "major" for someone who intended to go on to law school - but a change in professional plans led to a change of majors. When I graduated as a member of Harvard's undergraduate Class of 1992, it was with my B.A. in History. My educational career began a few short months later, and those first few years saw me working in the Social Studies department, teaching primarily History and Government - but my professional path was destined to lead elsewhere. Fast forward twenty-plus years, and not only do I now hold current teaching certificates in both Social Studies and Mathematics, the fact is that I have actually spent well over half of my career teaching math. The truth is that I take no small degree of professional (and personal) pride in being able to point to one particular honor that I have received over the course of my professional career as being indicative of my proficiency in both of my fields of study: the ETS (Educational Testing Service) has twice awarded me its Recognition of Excellence commendation, one time each for my respective scores on the PRAXIS (teacher certification) tests in my two disciplines.
My Hobbies and Interests:
music [some playing (mostly the piano), but mostly listening and singing]
the movies (almost everything - EXCEPT horror flicks!)
sports [BIG fan of the Braves and SEC football (especially Auburn, my dad's alma mater)]
trivia (I LIKE knowing random facts - and I am VERY competitive.
Why do you think that I sponsor the Academic Team?)
games (ALL kinds: board games, card games, word games, logic games and puzzles, . . . )
reading (everything from classical literature to current newspapers and magazines)