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CLHS Teacher Wins Award


Canyon Lake High School Teacher Charles Van Houten will admit he didn’t make the best grades when he was in high school.

Despite his early academic career, this week he became Comal ISD’s KENS5 ExCEL Award Winner.

The history teacher’s spent his entire nine-year teaching career at Canyon Lake High School. He teaches AP European History, AP U.S. History and German.

Van Houten also received a $1,000 check from the event’s co-sponsor, the San Antonio Credit Union. Van Houten raised the large check over his head at an assembly earlier this week, eliciting loud cheers from students.

The entire senior class filled the school’s Performing Arts Center as the CLHS drumline, dance and cheer squads and two Hawks mascots took to the stage for the check presentation.

Making a difference

Van Houten is one 19 San Antonio-area winners of the 2016-17 ExCEL Award.

KENS5 News Anchor Deborah Knapp interviewed Van Houten and several of his students as a cameraman filmed a lively AP European History Class.

“Mr. Van Houten not only helps students, but he helps the entire school,” Knapp said. “He’s kind enough to keep his classroom open to everyone before school, during lunch and after school. And he’s involved in the Chess Club, Model United Nations, the Junior State of America and he’s the UIL coach for history, spelling and current events. He told me his biggest accomplishment as a teacher is making a difference in the lives of his students. I can tell by the reaction of this crowd that he’s certainly done that.”

If you missed the news clip about his top honor on KENS5 Eyewitness news on Thursday, Oct. 27, click HERE to see that video.  Or, catch him again on Saturday, Oct. 29 during the morning newscast.

From sales to teaching

By the time Van Housten was the age most of his high school seniors are today he had already chosen what he thought would be his lifelong career path in the world of sales.

It wasn’t until he met his future wife Heather that he thought a career as a teacher could even be a remote possibility. Heather Van Houten is currently a Speech Language Pathologist in Comal ISD.

“Even though no one in my family had ever gone to college I decided to enroll at UT-San Antonio at age 32 and I earned by degree in History four years later,” Van Houten said. “I never could have imagined just how much fun education could be.”

“Mr. V has a passion for his students to be successful, so that makes us want to do our very best for him,” said student Felix Blaksley. “He’s such an understanding teacher. He doesn’t mind spending time with the class if we don’t understand something. You kind of grow together throughout the year and that creates a special bond. I know Mr. V is one of those teachers I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

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