LITHIA, Fla. — Middle school and algebra. Both can be pretty tough for a kid.
No one understands that better than Christopher Wickfors, who teaches mathematics at Randall Middle School in Lithia.
“Yes, I want them to get As on every algebra test,” says Wickfors. “But if they leave here and they’re not ready for what’s next in high school, in life, then I haven’t done my job.”
That compassion for his students, and their equal admiration for him, just helped Wickfors beat out almost 50,000 other teachers across the country.
The Hillsborough County Schools star was one of 30 teachers to win Norwegian Cruise Line’s Giving Joy campaign, which highlighted America’s best educators.
A near-death brain injury when he was 19 set him on the path where he values his true passion.
“My philosophy on teaching is that it goes beyond algebra,” Wickfors says.
While he won a cruise and a shiny glass trophy, Wickfors says the outpouring of love from his students, both past and present, is the best reward.
“This is all about them,” says Wickfors.
Students submitted video testimonials for the Giving Joy Campaign. They praised Wickfors for helping them cope not just with math, but other struggles that come with being a middle-schooler trying to find their way.
“He lets us be ourselves in class, and yet he’s still able to teach us,” says eight grader Aubrey Graham.
She added Wickfors' classroom is warm and nurturing unlike many other “toxic” environments at school.