In this series, we sit down with our teachers and ask them about their experiences teaching at BASIS Independent Fremont, what motivates them, and some other fun questions. Today we talk with Mr. Gene Huneycutt, our Engineering Subject Expert Teacher.
What do you enjoy the most about teaching at BASIS Independent Fremont?
I enjoy being able to collaborate with inspiring, qualified co-workers. Whether I am coordinating a lesson with a Learning Expert Teacher, or creating a cross-curricular project with a Subject Expert Teacher, I find I always have something to learn from each teacher.
What do you hope students take away from your classes?
One of the greatest learning moments happens right as a student’s project accidentally breaks apart. I have found students generally get frustrated, and will say things like “I can’t do this” or “This is too hard.” This is the moment where I challenge them to think differently. Life is full of frustrating moments, and I am committed that my students are able to take a frustrating situation and turn it into an opportunity to try a different approach.
Can you think of a memorable anecdote from teaching at BASIS Independent Fremont?
In my entrepreneurship club, the Think Tank, we were building arcade games. I noticed one student was sitting on the ground, not working. I walked over and asked “Why are you not working on your arcade game?” She pointed at everyone else’s projects and said to me, “Everyone’s arcade games look so good, but I haven’t even started on mine.” I told her to look at the various materials and see if anything would inspire her. She looked at the materials, shook her head, and sat right back down on the ground. I pulled out a unique piece of plastic and handed it to her and said “Why don’t you try to come up with an arcade game that uses this piece?” She stared at it blankly for a few moments, and then got to work. Before I knew it, she ran up to me with a big smile exclaiming, “Mr. Huneycutt! Come play my arcade game!” She had invented a functional, intricate arcade game, and she very proudly explained the rules to me. In moments like these, I recognize the great amount of creativity these students have, and my job is simply to help them tap into it.
What do you enjoy doing outside of teaching?
I enjoy inventing and playing board games, jogging, and mentoring.
Can you share some of your accomplishments or awards?
I received the 2014 Kathleen Ruppe Award for outstanding foresight, dedication, and service as a resident advisor for NCSU University Housing. I have spoken at over 80 speaking engagements, regarding topics of leadership, character education, team-building, personal development. I also received the NCSU Combined Campaign Scholarship.
What motivated you to become a teacher?
I had every intention to be a full-time engineer, but I couldn’t look away from the opportunity to make a difference for young people. I found that I really enjoyed mentoring and working with young people, and I decided that I wanted to work in education. Nothing is more important than giving students the tools to make a remarkable difference in their communities.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” –Henry Ford
This quote hints at the power of our thinking, and how simple attitudes and views can shape our reality. My commitment is that students see that they are more capable than they thought.
Is there someone who you consider to be an inspiration? If so, who are they and why are they an inspiration to you?
I have always been inspired by the story of Thomas Edison, and I share it with all of my classes. Thomas Edison failed a lot, but he saw those failed experiments as successful proofs for what does not work. From there, he learned from his mistakes and tried something different.
I also consider Elon Musk to be an inspiration. He has experienced many failures, and each failure gets him closer to the goals that drive him. He already has revolutionized the fields of internet security, space exploration, and renewable energy. He could live comfortably without working another day in his life. But Elon Musk has a compelling vision that drives him to continue to develop his work. That inspires me.