The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

Teacher of the month: Christopher Forney

Photo by Amir-Abbas Yazdi
Mr. Christopher Forney smiles while he stands in front of a white board drawing of himself, holding his teacher of the month certificate. He has been teaching MCPS students in subjects such as psychology and world history for 26 years.

On the surface: a three-time “Teacher of the Month” award winner. A social studies guru. A certified voyager. Beneath the surface: an artiste. An active listener. A kind-hearted human. These are some of the descriptions that, combined, describe a praiseworthy instructor. These descriptions can only describe one man: Mr. Forney. 

With a whopping 26 years of teaching experience in MCPS, Forney has taught loads of students in subjects ranging from psychology to world history – which he now mainly teaches. His charisma has been a common denominator throughout his years of teaching, and his students will attest to this.

“You cannot help but admire his energy and passion for teaching,” WCHS junior and AP Modern World History student Maysam Ghandi said. “Throughout the class, no matter what he teaches or what kind of day it is, he stays enthusiastic about the material – which makes his class that much more fun.”

As a psych major and history buff, Forney’s organic curiosity for social studies did not simply spur from a hatred of math. His childhood experiences played a pivotal role in piquing his interest in it. 

Story continues below advertisement

“I think hearing the stories of the past, living overseas and traveling, in a lot of ways, makes history more relevant for me,” said Forney. “I grew up in a family where, during dinner time, the news was always on and I had my sisters and mom and dad who would discuss current events. We also happened to have a Japanese exchange student [at one point], so that compelled me even more to learn about the wider world.”

Into his adulthood, Forney started teaching English as a foreign language to Chinese scientists in Nanjing for a year. He also worked with young people in Northern Ireland for two years in a youth club. He also continues to travel and expand his worldly knowledge by visiting various countries, from Slovenia to Vietnam to Turkey. As cliche as it may sound, all of his experiences truly changed how he operates – both inside and outside the classroom.

“[When traveling,] the most mundane things become intriguing,” Forney said. “Going to a grocery store or a post office – completely boring things – suddenly becomes interesting just because cultural differences are involved. I think it’s also fun to see the humanity in people across the globe. I firmly believe the more exposure you get to people from elsewhere, the more open-minded you become and the less likely you are to buy into the ethnocentric hatred of others.”

With that, Forney brings an exceptionable mindset and skill set to the table, which make him an impactful teacher, and is reflected by the fact that he was previously nationally board-certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and why he was recently chosen by a WCHS alumnus (who won the Phillip Merril Scholars Program Honors at the University of Maryland) to be recognized as the most unforgettable mentor in her K-12 years. On top of that, Forney was even nominated for the 2024 Washington Post Teacher of the Year. This goes without saying that his outstanding colleagues and the diverse student body at WCHS improved his circumstances.

“It is fun, working with students that are from all over the world; I think it adds a lot to the class,” Forney said. “It is also important to mention that I am so fortunate I work with an amazing department of fellow professionals who bring a lot of different skills. They are organized, tech-savvy, hard-working, [etc.], and so, I think in many ways, I am complimented by the people that I work with and plan lessons with.”

Forney is grateful for his co-workers and students, and conversely, his students are thankful for his kind, creative and fun personality. One flaw that Forney claims to have is his struggle with remembering and pronouncing names correctly. Even if that is true, it does not matter since his students will never forget him.

“Mr. Forney has always encouraged us to put our best effort forward – whether that be with the assignments we need to complete or just with paying attention in class,” WCHS junior and AP Modern World History student Sina Wyckoff said. “From telling different stories to changing his accent to drawing doodles of historical figures, he never fails to incorporate some subtle, attention-grabbing tactics into his lessons. I think that says a lot about Mr. Forney’s unique, relatable nature.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Amir-Abbas Yazdi
Amir-Abbas Yazdi, Opinions Editor
Amir-Abbas Yazdi is a senior and is the Opinions Editor for The Observer. This is his fourth year taking journalism. In his free time, he loves watching Disney classics with his family and playing soccer with his friends.

Comments (0)

All The Observer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *