David Arwood followed in parents footsteps to become an educator

Published 12:15 am Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye  For Valley Forge Elementary School teacher David Arwood, being an educator is a family tradition.

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye
For Valley Forge Elementary School teacher David Arwood, being an educator is a family tradition.

While being a teacher runs in the family for David Arwood, it wasn’t always in his plans.

But life has a way of changing plans, and Arwood found himself at the head of a classroom, just like his parents before him. Arwood, who teaches third grade at Valley Forge Elementary School, was one of three teachers recently honored by the Carter County Board of Education as a Teacher of the Year, taking home the honor for the K-4 division.

The son of Roger and Melinda Arwood, David Arwood grew up in Carter County, where he attended Hampton Elementary and graduated from Hampton High School. His mother was the librarian at Hampton High School and his father taught at Unaka High School.

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Growing up, Arwood never really considered a career in education and never imagined life leading him down that road.

“Having two parents that taught, teaching was the last thing I wanted to do because it was all I had known,” he said.

After graduating high school, Arwood went to East Tennessee State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. It was after graduating from college that his attention began to turn toward education.

“As I got older I got more interested in it,” Arwood said. “The older I got the more I appreciated the profession and the more I appreciated Carter County and growing up in a rural environment.”

Arwood then went back to school, this time to Milligan College, where he received a master’s degree in education. He completed his student teaching in Johnson City and then returned to Carter County.

When he decided to make the career change, Arwood’s parents not only supported his decision but offered him some sage words of advice as well.

“My parents always enjoyed education, even when it had its ups and downs,” he said. “They told me I would never be rich but it would always be a fulfilling profession.”

And, they could not have been more correct about the job being fulfilling, Arwood said.

“I leave a lot of days mentally exhausted but it is all worth it,” he said. “At the end of the school year I really enjoy how far the students have come in nine months and how much they’ve grown, both mentally and emotionally.”

One of his favorite parts of being a teacher is getting to work with the children, who often times make his day anything but typical.

“Every day is a bit of organized chaos, but it is never boring to say the least,” Arwood added. “I definitely enjoy working with the kids.”

This school year is the fifth year the 29-year-old Arwood has taught in Carter County, and all five of those years have been spent with the students at Valley Forge Elementary School. Arwood taught a fifth grade classroom for his first year but then moved on to teaching third grade students.

“I like Valley Forge, it’s a great school,” he said. “It’s small enough that you can really get to know the students and I love that.”

Arwood loves teaching in the school system he grew up in and said he would like to stay in Carter County throughout his career.

“I appreciate the feel of a small community,” he said. “The older I get the more I appreciate those things.”

Not only does Arwood keep up with his family legacy of being an educator, his wife Kathleen also works with students. Kathleen Arwood is a speech language pathologist who works with students at Hunter Elementary School through a contract with the school system.

Arwood laughed as he talked about keeping education in the family. “We couldn’t avoid it,” he said.