Frederick Atkins: ‘Teaching snuck up on me’

Published 4:49 pm Friday, December 3, 2021

Frederick Atkins, a world history and world geography teacher at Lake Charles College Prep, uses his business savvy every day in the classroom. With a degree in business administration, Atkins spent years working in human resources as a corporate trainer.

“I was always selected to train new hires. I just thought maybe they learned differently from me or felt more comfortable with me.”

After Hurricane Rita destroyed his place of employment, an opportunity arose to take his business skills to the classroom.

“Teaching actually snuck up on me. I had no idea that’s what I really wanted to do. I just thought I was good at training people on a job.”

A start at a private school showed him teaching was exactly where he belonged and in his work at LCCP for the last five years he continues using the skill set that he’s since refined with two masters’ degrees. “I just noticed that the students were really catching onto how I was delivering the instruction. I think it was because I was paying attention to what they needed.”

Atkins said he knows first-hand just how important it is to have a teacher who notices even the quietest of students. “It’s because I was always a very shy student in high school but also I was pretty shy even in college. I didn’t ask the questions I really wanted to ask so that I could have a better understanding,” he said.

His motto and commitment to students ensures he recognizes everyone. “I tell tell them, ‘I see you when you come in’ and I see them differently as they walk out.”

The late Gladys Hawkins, Atkins’ high school business teacher, modeled this style of teaching. “She was firm but she was always fair. She noticed us. She saw us when we walked in and she noticed us when we walked out.”

This kind of personal teaching and making connections with students is Atkins’ favorite part of the job.

“Being in the classroom allows me to create an environment in which they (students) not only feel safe but also where they want to come back and ask those questions. It’s bringing them in to leave out different from the way they came in.”

If given the chance to wish for anything as an educator, Atkins said he wishes for his student to simply be good people. “I have no doubt in any student I teach in terms of their ability to learn the content. So, I just wish for my students to be good people. If they’re good people then I know they’ll do great things.”

Making connections and ensuring his students grow into good people also spans into Atkins’ free time where he enjoys mentoring students. “As I mentor them, I do see the difference in them.”

Atkins also enjoys community service and time with his fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha as well as painting.