PHOTO: Freedom Intermediate fifth-grade teacher Eddie Wynne enjoys working one-on-one with his students, as opposed to standing in front of the class lecturing. / Photo by John McBryde
By JOHN McBRYDE
Eddie Wynne has been a math and reading teacher in the Franklin Special School District for 5½ years, but it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say his approach to teaching goes beyond the walls of Freedom Intermediate School.
In fact, he takes his passion for teaching beyond the boundaries of the United States. Last summer, for instance, he joined a group of other teachers from across the nation to stay four weeks in Uganda and work with teachers there. This summer, he’ll be traveling to Belize in Central America to do the same with another group.
He’s part of a nonprofit program called Limited Resource Teacher Training, in which nearly 2,000 teachers from the U.S. spend time in 11 different developing countries helping teachers become better prepared to lead their classrooms.
“We’re trying to create this sustainable approach to education,” Wynne recently explained during his planning period at Freedom Intermediate. “We’re not necessarily going in and taking over the teaching role or taking over the class. That’s not going to really help when we leave. We’re working with teachers to give them strategies. We listen to their needs.”
Wynne, who is from London and spent five years in Sweden and another 20 in Denmark, has such a passion for teaching that he turned to the profession after a career as an engineer. In Denmark, he taught just about every grade and subject imaginable, including kindergarten math, 10th grade English as a second language, and fifth grade P.E., as well as music and metal-works and woodwork in shop.
“I’ve always been very creative with art,” Wynne said when asked what led him to become a teacher. “In high school, I spent a year shadowing a teacher in primary school, and that kind of laid the foundation.”
Wynne began teaching at Freedom Intermediate in November 2013, not long after he and his wife, Meghann Wynne, moved to Franklin. They had met in North Carolina, where Wynne landed after he first came to the U.S. through a program that placed international faculty in high-need schools.
As his students filed into his Freedom Intermediate classroom after his planning period had ended, Wynne immediately engaged them in the subject they’re currently working on, the metric system. Class time also included a short video, pop-up questions and then breaking into groups for four different centers of study.
“I’ve always tried to make it student-centered, where I’m not the one standing up lecturing,” Wynne said. “I’m always doing a mini-lesson, but really I want them working very hands-on doing the work.”
“In those centers, one is a small group where I’m doing intensive work with a group. Another will be at their desk where they’re practicing the objective for working on the metric system right now, so it might be calculations from kilometers to meters. There is always a technology station, where they’re working on their Chrome Books, and we will always have a hands-on section, maybe a game.”
Wynne’s teaching energy is also expended in an after-school tutoring session he developed called Gentry’s program. In addition, he works with students in coding and even leads yoga lessons.
“When I started teaching, there was a time when my door was always closed,” Wynne said. “But now I find that my door is open to the world. I’m in a position to go out into the world and teach the world. I feel I’m on a quest to teach in every continent. So far I’ve taught in Europe and North America and Africa. I think Antarctica might be a problem. We’ll save that one for last.”