PHOENIX (3TV/CBS5) -- Mr. Chad Lopes is an Honors Language Arts teacher at Dysart High School. He does not shy away from tackling difficult material in his class. However, the environment he creates makes his classroom a place where his students want to learn.
We visited his unique classroom to present Mr. Lopes with a Silver Apple Award. Additionally, the Arizona Dairy Council presented the instructor with a $500 check.
"We just thank you so much for all the work that you've done to invest in your students and invest in our community," said Wes Kerr from the Kerr Family Farms. "We as Dairy Farm families, want to say thank you, and we're honored to get to recognize you today."
Mr. Lopes responded to the gesture with both humor and humility, hallmark trademarks for the teacher. "Well, I have to keep bribing [the students]. So I'll go to the bank and get that all in smaller denominations, bring it back and say here you guys go."
Mr. Lopes actually started his working life in a different career. However, he did not find fulfillment until he found himself in a classroom, where he teaches his students to love literature and garner life lessons from the text.
"My quasi, cheesy, fortune cookie sayings--there is one I work with all the time. I'll ask [the students], what's the first step in avoiding a trap? Know the trap exists. That idea of critical thinking, that no matter what they do in life, if they don't feel overwhelmed, they stop and take a breath and say 'look, I'm not helpless, what are my resources, what are my options,' and they apply the critical thinking to that, they'll find a way forward."
Breanna Torres is the student who wrote the Silver Apple Committed about Mr. Lopes.
She read her letter in class. "Mr. Lopes an incredible instructor here at Dysart High School; and his gift is that he knows how to interact very well with his students. Mr. Lopes has created a safe and funny learning environment for all of us. He takes the time to get to know each of his students and he came up with a nicknames to match our personalities, like puffs, Franny, Specs, etc... Mr. Lopes truly cares about our success and is always there helping us accomplish our goals."
In Mr. Lopes' class, the students read "Of Mice and Men." As they discussed the lessons in the literary work, he emphasized to the class that, "Just because something is difficult to do, you shouldn't quit."
Mr. Lopes hopes his students take away several life lessons, like that one, along with a love for learning, long after they leave his class.