Just a Teacher follows the life and career of fictional teacher Todd Hunter. Brand new to the classroom in 1969, Hunter decides to throw out the textbook and take his bored and restive junior-high biology students outside for a hands-on science lesson. In the years that follow, the “Pond Project” will spark a passion for learning among the thousands of children who take Hunter’s class.
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“This story is a far cry from your typical ‘teacher inspires downtrodden students’ hero story,” says co-author Jim David, a former National Biology Teacher of the Year. The novel is loosely based on David’s career as a secondary math/science teacher and supervisor in Flagstaff, Arizona. “Part mystery, part romance, Just a Teacher takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride through the life and career of a public school teacher. Sometimes it’s a rocky journey… but that’s just like real life for every teacher I know.”
David co-authored the book with fellow educator Michael Fillerup, the prizewinning author of numerous short stories, two previous novels and several children’s books. During his 34-year career in public education, Fillerup developed and supervised programs for Native American, Hispanic and other language-minority children. In addition, he designed and directed two Navajo language revitalization programs and is the founder and former director of Puente de Hozho Tri-lingual School in Flagstaff. Experiences with Navajo and Hopi students informed Fillerup’s writing of Just a Teacher.
The Arizona Daily Sun called Just a Teacher “a celebration of a teacher’s legacy” and said “Fillerup and David lay their hearts bare on the pages, imploring teachers, students and parents to not give up on the largely unappreciated and under-funded education field.” (“Just a Teacher focuses on impact educators have on their students and communities,” October 18, 2020)