Pope prepares students for success on AP history exam

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MASTER OF SUCCESS: Lee Pope’s students are among Grady’s best performers on the AP exam.

Eleven  years ago former Grady Principal Dr. Vincent Murray hired  Lee Pope  the new AP U.S. History teacher. Ever since, the school has seen tremendous success by its students in the subject.

Last year, Pope had the highest passing rate yet on the AP exam. The majority of students who chose to take the exam passed with a score of at least three, which indicates that the student is qualified to receive college credit for the course.

Pope credits much of his success to the teachers in ninth and tenth grade.

“There are good teachers below me like [Sara] Looman, who have been training the kids to write the papers and doing the things they need to do, so, that when they get to my class, there is already some knowledge and some ability there,” Pope said.

Pope teaches  similar to a college lecture style. Standing at the front of the classroom, he both instructs students and allows them to ask questions along the way. This teaching style seems very effective.

“I honestly didn’t even feel like I had to review since I had learned everything with the initial lectures,” said senior Jazmin Cruz, who received a 5 on the AP exam last year. “It’s like the content sticks after writing what he says, rather than doing worksheet work, as in other classes.”

Although Pope’s students seem to think his teaching is the reason for the high scores, Pope thinks it has to do with difficulty in curriculum.

“It is easier curricula than Calculus, Chemistry, Physics and other classes,” said Pope. “There is a story that goes with it. It is the study of human beings. It is the study of what  we have done as people. I think in that sense it’s easier.”

Out of the students to pass the exam last year, 27 of them received 5’s. This is the highest possible score to be received on an AP exam and means students have mastered the content. Although he has the second-highest number of students to score a 5 out of any teacher in the school (behind Christopher Wharton who teaches  the freshman-oriented class, AP Human Geography), Pope only wants to go up from here. He has high hopes for the current junior class.

“I always want to double what I have. I had 27 5’s last year, and I want to double that, so I need 54 5’s this year,” Pope said. “This junior class is an incredibly intelligent class. It’s really very smart. I think the scores can be good. I’ve got a lot of kids that are more than capable of doing it. The reason we are behind in curriculum right now is because they are thinking, and there are so many questions.”

Not only is Pope among one of the most successful teachers at Grady; students enjoy the class.

“He has a really well-founded understanding of the topics we need to know for the exam, and his lectures match the curriculum closely,” said senior Robert Weimar, who also scored a 5 on the exam. “AP U.S. History was definitely one of my favorite classes last year.”

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