Stars and Stripes Forever (and ever…and ever…)

West G Social Studies Teacher Promotes Patriotism in the Classroom


One might think that patriotism is just a part of the job description when it comes to being a social studies teacher. If you’re the one teaching a class about the US of A’s many facets, it’s to be expected you’d have a little pride. Some teachers take it above and beyond; they are all about the “Red White and Blue,” in and out of the classroom. They have a star-spangled past and future to come. West Geauga currently has, after spending three years at Crestwood High School, that exact teacher: he is Mr. Chris Rader, and he will be teaching AP psychology, psychology, world history, and history via sports in a West G. classroom near you.

Mr. Rader attended college for criminal justice and integrated social studies at the University of Maryland and Kent State University, respectively. “When I graduated from high school my first college major was education.  I had a really great government teacher and I wanted to go into the field because he made the topic so interesting that I thought I could do it for a career,” he said.

Though impressive, it might not jump out as the gleaming tale of patriotism that was just alluded to. He didn’t simply “jump” from college to teaching. No, Mr. Rader first spent 6 years in the U.S. Army as an active-duty, full time soldier. From military police officer, to the special reaction team (SRT, something like the military’s version of a SWAT team), to a military dog handler (otherwise known as K9 Police), he has a myriad of patriotic exploits to his name. “When I was in the military, I was a team leader then a squad leader. In that role, you have to train younger soldiers.  Teaching them how to be a better soldier was fun for me and I really enjoyed seeing people learn a new skill or get better at one they didn’t know they could do.”

As a member of the aforementioned K9 police, he was both a narcotics dog handler and an explosives dog handler. This experience came in handy when he left the Army in 2010 to join a private security company in Afghanistan. He again worked as an explosive detection dog handler, doing missions for foreign countries and interior security at the gates and checkpoints in the Kandahar Air Field (KAF). After leaving that company, he took up a spot in another company named Triple Canopy, where he worked personal security for the Department of State in Iraq. In this job he and the team he led protected, important figures as they traveled around Baghdad.  If you can imagine the Secret Service protecting the President, you can imagine Mr. Rader protecting ambassadors and diplomats, working for the embassy in Iraq. In short, it might be a good idea to start paying attention when he’s the one in front of the board speaking, as the man knows what he is talking about and has the resume to prove it.

You might think, “That’s impressive,” and being in the military is very patriotic. But it’s not like he carves out American flags from chunks of wood and collects more in his free time, right ? Wrong ! In fact, that’s exactly what he does. Mr. Rader has a small side business where carves small wooden American flags. Not only that, but he collects antique American flags: ones with 49 stars, 48 stars, 36 stars, and even a Betsy Ross flag. That’s just at home. His West Geauga classroom is adorned by at least 25 flags, not accounting for the American flag duct-tape used to hang up things on his wall. Someone get this man a bald eagle ASAP !!

Stars-and-stripes-forever isn’t all this social studies teacher is about, though. He likes food (which he’ll gladly accept from any home-ec class) and working out (at 3:40am in the morning every day). He also has three dogs, Tucker, Kimber and Teddy (named for Teddy Roosevelt). He will also be adding a wife, named Jess, shortly, as he is engaged.

When asked his reason for going into education and his goals for the year, he explained, “I teach world history, psychology, and history via sports, but being a social studies teacher, I also think it’s important for me to talk about the world and values and being a better person.  A goal I have for my students is that when they finish the year with me they will have learned a little bit more of what it means to be a citizen and how to respect themselves and each other.”