English Teacher Treks Across the Country to Find a More Diverse Student Body

Will Cogswell II taught high school English for three years in Maine before deciding to make a major change. The schools that Cogswell taught at were in small, rural towns and did not reflect the diversity that he had hoped to encounter on the job.

He decided that he would have to make a move if he wanted to find that diversity so he began searching out of state for a new teaching position. He found what he was looking for at West High School in Salt Lake City, UT.

Cogswell and his girlfriend decided to make the journey as exciting as the destination and took their time driving from Maine to Utah, stopping at national parks along the way.

West High School has a student population of 2,400. In comparison Cogswell’s previous high school, Libson High School had only 350 students and another, Mt. Ararat High, had less than 900. The school has a large Hispanic enrollment and attracts East African immigrants.

Cogswell is excited to have the opportunity to use his Spanish when the school year begins. He is proficient in the language and studied it abroad in Chile his junior year of college.

Cogswell graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME with a major in English. It was while attending Bowdoin that he first began thinking of becoming an English teacher. After graduation he taught at Columbia University as a Fulbright scholar and his experience sealed the deal. He enrolled in Bowdoin’s Teacher Scholars program and completed the semester-long training.

“I was drawn to teaching. It’s challenging. It requires constant reflection and thought on my part,” said Cogswell. He said that he loves teaching high school age students because it’s the time between middle school and college where students begin to develop a sense of self. He loves English because he says it encompasses all other subjects. “It allows me to go about exploring and understanding the world..,” he added.


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