JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - What do volcanoes, the French language, and food have in common? They all embody KAIT's January Teacher of the Month.
Curtis Adams originally wanted a career in making network television commercials but after years of tutoring, he found a life in teaching.
"I went through a nontraditional program," Adams said. "They let me work while I taught and originally I wanted to teach math because that is what I had done most of my life."
But it wasn't math he stuck with. Instead, Adams found a love for science.
He's taught fifth and sixth-grade science at Valley View Intermediate for 8 of his 11-year teaching career.
"I try to relate it to things that they understand," Adams said.
Whether it's the weather or something they see in a movie, Adams makes sure his students know science is all around them.
When we surprised Adams, he was teaching his students about volcanoes.
"Our snow might come down and melt and go away, but ash you have to shovel up and move it away," Adams explained to his class.
When we erupted into his classroom, applause and smiles could be seen all around because Adams is more to his students than just a science teacher.
"I treat my students like I would want to be treated," Adams said. "They are to me on an equal level plane as far as social status because if they feel comfortable talking to me, I feel comfortable talking to them and then it just makes it easier in class."
One way he chooses to get to know his students is in the cafeteria.
He eats lunch with his students every day.
"When we learn about people we begin to understand them better and when we understand them better we become more friends," Adams said.
Friendships that his student Josie Hargis notices.
Hargis nominated Adams for this month's teaching honor. She said she and her classmates simply wanted him to know how much they appreciate him.
They appreciate their lessons in science, but they also appreciate his lessons in the kitchen.
Adams is known for cooking for his students.
"I use it as a reward," Adams said. "In my class, if you receive a 100 on the test I'll put a sticker on there, earn three 100s you are allowed to come in my class one lunch day to play with whatever science equipment you want while you are eating, if you earn two more then I'll actually make your lunch."
And he doesn't just make turkey sandwiches.
"I'll feed them whatever they want: steak, hamburger, ribs, tacos, enchiladas," Adams said. "Even if I've never made it before it gives me an opportunity to make something new."
Learning something new is something Adams loves to do.
He lived in France for two years and learned the French language while he was there.
To add to his class schedule, his lunch conversations, and cooking, Adams voluntarily teaches his students French after school.
"If they want to learn French they can come after school for free," Adams said. "I don't even charge them because they are actually helping me."
Adams said he doesn't want to lose the language so speaking it with his students keeps it fresh in his mind.
"If they need to get a drink of water or go to the restroom they ask me in French and the kids are like are you guys having a conversation in French, I'm like yeah we are doing it," Adams said.
While it may sound like he's got a full plate, Adams wants it no other way.
"I hope they go and look at the world and they continue to be curious and they continue wanting to learn," Adams said.
As for his future, he tells his students he will stop teaching when a student walks into his classroom and says you taught my grandmother.