November Teacher Spotlight: Mr. Novak

Stratis Bohle

Mr. Novak is a Government and World History 2 Honors teacher that has taught at Centreville High School for the past 4 years and 4 years prior to that in the mid-1990’s. He is originally from Northern Virginia and attended college at James Madison University for his undergraduate and then George Mason for his graduate degree. He then entered the Marine Officer Candidates School at Quantico but opted out after making the decision to not follow a military career.

“I started coaching and realized I enjoyed working with kids and I wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people,” he said regarding his passion for teaching and coaching. He truly shows this through his teaching and his coaching of the Freshman Football team, giving Centreville’s incoming freshman a warm face ready to run them out and give them an awesome season as a team.

After teaching since 1994 at CVHS, then Lake Braddock starting in 1998, and then back to Centreville in 2013, Mr. Novak has experienced numerous amounts of change of his almost 25-year-old career. With regards to a perceived change in students, he refutes the idea with saying that “Times change but kids remain largely the same and there are few things more important to their success than establishing positive relationships.” Mr. Novak believes more in helping to foster student relations, giving students nicknames, such as Pharoh or Kobra Kai, which usually have something to do with that students name or country. He goes on further stating that “Society has changed a lot and my classes look a lot different than they did 24 years ago but I’ve always believed in treating each student in my class like they were my own kid. I think students respond positively when they know you care about them personally and realize you’re their advocate and not their adversary.”

With the change in teaching itself, Mr. Novak does note there is a change  in “That different educational theories and programs come and go but helping students maximize their fullest potential in and out of the classroom should always be the focus of teaching.” Mr. Novak is very right in that teaching styles come and go as it all follows the curriculum and how the students interact with the material. One thing that has not change for him is coaching. The basic rules of football and lacrosse don’t change, just minute details that won’t affect the training of his students.

Talking about technology in school he said that “The access to information on the world wide web and social media and the availability of cell phones has been both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it makes students’ lives easier but it can also be a terrible distraction and impediment to actual scholarship.” I see where Mr. Novak is coming from as my class last year I believe caused him to buy one of the cell phone cubbies where he could place confiscated cell phones when he was lecturing. The incidences, of which there were many, went along with someone playing a game on their cell phone and Mr. Novak would instruct the student to put it away, and then a few minutes later another student would get instructed again, not receiving the memo the first 20 times. That isn’t to say we never used tech in the classroom. Towards the end of the school year, we had to do ECARTS for the History SOL, which required the use of cell phones, because Computer carts are hard to find even when no state tests are going on.

Mr. Novak was an awesome teacher to myself last year, and an awesome coach to my brother this year. He made me like European history, and dwell into the Napoleonic Wars. To many more years of Coach Novak.