Teacher Feature: Adam Novak goes from military career to teaching

By April Clark Honaker

After Adam Novak graduated from high school, he served eight years in the U.S. Army before studying pre-Nursing at the University of Louisiana in Monroe. Novak said the day he received his acceptance letter to the nursing program, he decided nursing wasn’t really where his heart was and changed course to pursue teaching instead. 

Novak’s seventh grade history teacher, who also happened to be his football coach, had sparked his interest in teaching at a young age. The way this teacher taught and explained things inspired Novak. “Seventh grade history was one of the best classes I’ve ever taken,” Novak said. 

Then, as a medic in the Army, Novak found that he always enjoyed teaching others. “My wife picked up on that,” he said, “and it helped guide my decision.” After switching majors, Novak earned his Bachelor of Science in secondary education with a concentration in social studies. 

Not long after graduation, Novak was hired to teach and coach full time at Ruston Junior High School, where he is now in his sixth year. Novak teaches seventh grade social studies and is the assistant football and track coach, as well as the assistant girls’ basketball coach. 

As a teacher and a coach, Novak prioritizes forming relationships with the students. “Getting to know them, seeing them come out of their shells, and helping them grow academically is the best part for me,” Novak said. “I also think that being a coach gives me an extra chance to develop those relationships with the student athletes.”

At the end of the year, Novak said it’s really rewarding to look back and see how much knowledge the students have gained and how much they’ve increased their academic skills. His favorite topic to teach about is government. “I believe that’s an important topic to get them involved in as early as possible,” he said.

Novak said his experience in the Army has given him a deeper appreciation for being able to teach a subject he’s passionate about. He’s also able to draw on some of his past experiences to enrich his teaching and help the students better understand certain topics. “I think it sometimes makes it more interesting for them,” he said, “and I also think it puts it on a personal level.” 

Novak’s excellence in teaching has garnered recognition from his students and the district this year. Earlier this year, he was recognized as “Apple of the Month,” which is a school-wide teacher of the month award selected by the students, and he was also selected as the junior high teacher of the month for the district. Then, earlier this month, he was selected as one of Lincoln Parish Schools’ Teachers of the Year. 

Novak said, “It’s really humbling because you get up every day, and you do your best, and being recognized for that and having the hard work pay off, it’s awesome. It really is.” 

Novak was also very grateful to his family for their support in helping him achieve this recognition. “I put in a lot of time at the school,” he said. “It’s a lot of time away from home, and my wife is very understanding of that.” Sometimes Novak said he misses his own kids’ games to fulfill the responsibilities of his job, but they, too, are understanding. 

“I definitely could not have done it without a supportive wife and family,” he said. “They’re really understanding and really patient. Whatever way they can offer me support, they’re always there for me.”     

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