Paschal High School, Fort Worth ISD
Teaches: German, Honors Linguistics, and, starting this fall, AP Seminar, first course in Advanced Placement Capstone sequence.
Education: Bachelor of Arts, Interdisciplinary Studies (Foreign Languages and Linguistics); Master of Arts, Linguistics, both from the University of Texas at Arlington
Experience: Five years, all at Paschal
Ian Connally was in Germany with Paschal students when we tracked him down for this article.
Every other year, Connally’s German students get to travel to Germany for three weeks, where they attend German high school and spend two weeks with an exchange family. This is just one piece of why Connally loves teaching.
“There are rewards everywhere, every day,” he says. “I get to share two subjects that I love with my students. I see their eyes open to different cultures, different ways of doing things, different ways of being. I see my job as taking students on a journey, asking them to think and interact with ideas they haven’t approached before.”
Connally got his start on teaching late, waiting tables, tending bar and cooking his way through college and then pursuing a living in cooking. Ten years later, he began to date the woman who became his wife, an elementary school teacher, and she suggested teaching. He obtained alternative certification and landed a job at Paschal.
“That first year was really hard, but I discovered that I loved teaching,” he said.
In German, he gets the students to look at language through the “lens of culture.” And “in linguistics, I ask them to think about language as the object of scientific inquiry.”
Connally takes his German students to a Dallas Mavericks game each year on German Students night, where they meet Dirk Nowitzki, who answers questions in German and English. The German Club organizes a Christmas dinner. Students compete in regional and state contests and are known to show up in Connally’s classroom during lunch and before and after school.
Connally and another teacher, Teri Blaisdell, have developed a Ted Talks-like student academic conference in partnership with TCU called PIPTalks, where students research and develop presentations on topics and in formats they choose.
“It’s really cool, seeing the heights they’ll rise to when you give them total freedom to explore whatever they want,” Connally said.
Pedagogy is a word that school administrators use in talking about our honorees. And Paschal Principal Terri Mossige says Connally’s is strong.
“His relationships with kids are phenomenal,” she says. “They’re not taking linguistics only for linguistics. They’re taking it because it’s Ian.”
Off the clock, you’ll find Connally with his family, including his 2-year-old twins. “The zoo, the park, the science museum, tearing apart the house, building forts, jumping on the bed, singing, banging on the piano. I cook dinner most nights. I also still tend bar occasionally during the summer, just to keep my hand in. I like to travel. I also run and ride my bike, and I go to the gym when time allows. Life is good.”