Interview with Mr. Henderson – Series of Graduates, now Staff Members


Jared Arenas, Quality Control & Head Editor

“Why would someone choose to become a teacher?” A question that many students have kept to themselves since the beginning of elementary school, and their undying fascination with it only grows with time as their school experience gains with the passing years. Another lingering question on the same subject less students may think of is “Why would someone choose to teach right after graduating high school, only to come back to the same school they just attended?” I, alongside each member of The Talon, have been assigned with interviewing alumni staff here at Centennial High School. In other words, we’ve each been interviewing teachers that have graduated from this school as part of a larger group effort story.

Henderson graduated from Centennial High School in spring of 1991, a “long time ago” as he described it. “When I went here it was pretty White, ethically speaking. It’s much more diverse now, racially and economically. There’s much more variety and backgrounds of people here at Centennial. So many more languages [are] spoken in the school now than back then. Physically the building’s different too. There was a remodel probably 15-20 years ago now that changed the look of the building. Places like the library are in different spots right now,” Henderson said.

“Honestly, I think the more voices and the more different perspectives the better. I guess maybe it’s a little bit harder nowadays for students to know of people’s common experiences that weren’t common back then. It takes a little more effort back then to get to know people and where they were coming from. I think it’s a good thing when you can meet people and learn from different perspectives and backgrounds.”

The interest in becoming a teacher and coach began here, when he was learning as a fellow student at CHS. Coaching and being in this surrounding environment inspired Henderson to take that on as a career after school, and growing up he knew he wanted to be a “Centennial person“ regarding a future line of work. “I think it’s also a level of comfort, when you’re where you’re comfortable. I think it’s easier when you’re somewhere you’ve been before, and know some people at.”

“When I was a senior in college I started coaching here. I coached basketball and track and field. Then I came and I was a student teacher here where you get your experience in the classroom, [teach] the lessons, and all that stuff. So when I was done with college and going into teaching, when I was offered the offer to go into student teaching, I asked if I could go student teaching here, because that’s the place I wanted to be. We volunteer, while the teacher sits and gets paid.” Henderson laughed. “And [when] I got done student teaching there weren’t any teaching jobs here, so I got a job at David Douglas for two years- I was over there for my first two official years of teaching, as a social studies teacher. Things like government, A.P. government, and history. The main [thing] I’ve been doing is teaching in the classroom. Just this year I got this new job called a school and career specialist. More one-on-one, more with kids- helping them with their next steps on getting to college. Did football for a few years, did track and field for maybe ten, and I’ve been coaching basketball for 22 years, so a lot of coaching and a lot of classroom teaching prior to this job.”

“Well I love coaching because you get a mixture of your teaching still- you’re working with individuals still, and a team. You’re trying to figure out what makes one person ‘tick’. What makes one person perform better, what makes one person perform differently with different motivations. You get to teach, you get to know people, you get to work one-on-one, you get to compete. So I think coaching is my favorite thing because it combines all aspects of who I am. But that being said, I don’t coach right now because I have my own kids who take up time, and so I decided not to coach at this point in time, but I might go back to it in the future.“

The topic of COVID and how it has impacted students here at CHS came up, and Henderson placed his two cents on the matter by saying that while it is more difficult and certainly more understandable considering the circumstances, he would like to see more school spirit and involvement. “When you can’t have gatherings and assemblies and things like that- the traditional types I know that’s a little bit harder to do- trying to get some spirit back and get more students involved whether it be a sport or a club, choir, band, any of those activities. Anything that we can get them outside of the classroom is a good thing. We’ve had times in our past where that’s been much bigger, more involvement, more spirit things like that. It’s a little bit down right now but I’m sure it’ll come back. It’s just a matter of time and adjusting to be back in school.”

Henderson continued by comparing the era of Zoom meetings and four day school weeks to the time before COVID. Some people work great online, while others don’t, similar to how everyone in a physical teaching has different styles of learning to adhere to. As someone who had a difficult time being away from people for the entirety of my junior year, I found this explanation to do a great job describing my situation last year.

“I think it was easier that year and a half to make some people lose motivation. Some desire to push themselves and do the best they can do. Once again, other students didn’t have an effect, but I felt like the overall impact was bringing that motivation down and the learning down. So being back here this year I think it’s obviously a good thing and it’s an adjustment for everybody, but now that we’ve been here a few months I feel like it’s full on hearing and seeing in the classroom. It’s getting better and we’re getting a little bit back to normal.”

The interview concluded with Henderson saying that students should make the most of their high school experience. “It can be a great time for learning, having fun, and being involved. Take advantage of all the things that are offered in such a big school like this. We have so many clubs and so many different opportunities that people can take advantage of.”

Being someone who started joining more clubs and activities starting this school year, these words managed to have an effect on me. Stepping up as a leader for The Talon and being able to arrange my time in order to fit in extra curricular activities in my schedule were a couple things I needed to overcome this year, and Hendersen’s closing statement is something all students across Centennial can take away.