Middle School History Teacher & Coach
"This is my passion," says long-time Heritage U.S. history teacher Len Somers. "I love what I teach." It shows. Somers exudes an infectious enthusiasm for his subject, his ministry and his Middle School students that can only come from the inside out.
To understand Somers' zeal, you must go back in history. Literally. Back to the days of the Civil War and his favorite U.S. president, Abraham Lincoln. In Somers' classroom, it's easy to imagine. Lincoln's likeness is everywhere. Over the years, Somers has built an impressive collection of Lincoln artwork, textiles, statues, busts and even bobble heads. There are so many of them that he leads incoming 8th graders on a classroom scavenger hunt to find as many Lincoln reproductions as they can. There are 97.
Somers never tires of teaching the nine-week elective course about Lincoln that he developed over 12 years ago. Lincoln's life has become a springboard for Somers to draw spiritual applications from the pages of history. The legendary president's life changed in 1863, when he came to know Christ. "Lincoln became a new creation," he explains. "His viewpoint on humanity changed. How can you not get excited about that?" The historical parallels don't end there. "I want to help students see that God is always in control; that there are no accidents or coincidences; that history is the progressive unfolding of God's plan for mankind," he says.
We talk a lot about the fact that life is not about what happens to you. It's how you handle it.
Each spring, Somers and fellow history teachers Dave Watt and Dan Ambrose lead a large group of Heritage 8th graders and families on a guided tour of the nation's capitol. "We try to make history come alive for them; to make it as real as possible," he explains. The trip is so popular that it takes three charter buses accommodate the annual trek.
Somers also coaches the school's Middle School football and basketball teams. There, too, he seizes teachable moments. "We talk a lot about the fact that life is not about what happens to you. It's how you handle it," he says.
As a teenager, Somers never dreamed he'd teach one day. As a sophomore in college, the Lord clearly directed him to his vocational calling. "God knows me better than I know myself," he reflects. He shares this life lesson with his students, too. "When you know that the Lord wants you to do something," he says, " it's safe to trust Him."
After 24 years in his profession, the rest of Somers' own story, you might say, is history. "I'm doing exactly what He created me to do," he concludes.