A teacher, a coach, a father figure…and an American Graduate Champion

Posted by Nelson Weston on

For many high school students, their perception of teachers is that they teach a class and give out homework.  At my high school, my friends and I were aware of many teachers who, on top of their regular duties, would undertake extracurricular activities such as coaching or sponsoring a club. Some did it because they cared about student success, a few did it because they cared about the school’s presence in the community and others did it because they enjoyed watching the students grow and learn outside of the classroom. Then you had some who did for all of the aforementioned reasons, such as Mr. Erickson Bynum. Today, he would be called an American Graduate Champion.   

Mr. Bynum was the director and coach of the Speech and Debate Team at my high school.  During his time as a student, he also competed on the team. Fortunately, I joined Speech and Debate during my junior and senior year and was not only influenced by his leadership, but also witnessed first-hand his commitment to his students. Under his guidance over the past decade, he successfully led the team to multiple victories at local, regional, state and national tournaments.

What makes Mr. Bynum an American Graduate Champion was that he was viewed by countless students as a father figure who was dedicated to their individual success. I personally can attest to this.  He was the kind of educator, coach, and mentor who accepts nothing but excellence from all members of the team during both competitive and non-competitive times.  Mr. Bynum ensured that every student had all necessary resources to succeed and maximize their full potential. On numerous occasions, he was happy to transport students to and from tournaments, including early on Saturday mornings. He even made sure the students who struggled to find the funds to pay for tournament entry fees and snacks during the day, were covered.  In short, he was an American Graduate Champion. 

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