CLAXTON - A history teacher at Claxton High School, Todd Veland views his position not just as a job, but as an opportunity: one that provides insight into the world and inspires passion about the world.
Led in his career by his personal belief that God has a purpose for the life of every individual, Veland said his purpose is to serve others through leadership and education.
As a student at the University of South Alabama and later the University of Alabama, Veland said he began his journey as a leader. He became president of Bacchus and Gamma organization, where he helped educate sororities and fraternities about the dangers of binge drinking in Huntsville.
After receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees in history, Veland moved to Georgia, where he continued his educational pursuits, completing an Ed.S. in Teaching and Learning.
"I have a love of history as it influences my overall worldview," Veland said.
He teaches 9th through 12th grades in the subjects of world history, U.S. history, economics, world geography, civics, psychology and world affairs.
Assistant Principal Justin Russell called Veland a "driven educator whose personal quest for knowledge spills into his classroom."
"I think teaching history is important because it can shape how people view the world and thus how they view themselves," Veland said.
Whether it is examining a speech, writing a letter to military general from history, or creating a t-shirt representing the Bill Of Rights, Russell said, his students stay engaged.
Outside the classroom, Veland also is heavily involved in other student activities. He co-sponsors the Teens for Healthy Living club, which was awarded a $750 grant for its continued work in alcohol awareness. And his involvement in a service organization called the Interact Club helped establish Evans County Schools and Parks as 100 percent tobacco free with an additional $2,000 grant earned.
"I try to motivate kids about the value of education," he said, "and I believe academics is how you expand opportunity."
As a teacher for nine years at Claxton High, Veland said he hopes to move into a leadership position at some point in his career, which is why he took advantage of a program the school offers called Aspiring Leaders Program.
In addition to his membership of the School Leadership Team, Veland also helps with School Council and serves as the Social Studies department head.
"The rewards of being a teacher are definitely not extrinsic," said Veland. "You have to value intrinsic rewards and keep trying to show kids how academics is the key that will open any door you wish."