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Gwinnett’s “Best” AP U.S. History Teacher

Meet Mr. Cox: dog-lover, member of the famous band The Inverted Goates, UNICEF sponsor, and, in my view, the best AP U.S. History (APUSH) teacher in Gwinnett. It’s not often that a student gets to have a unique, experienced teacher.

One of the reasons Mr. Cox is such an outstanding teacher is his teaching method. He sets a strict schedule for the entire year so that we can finish all the content and have time to review before the AP Exam.

Every week, we have a lecture, a video, Class vs. Class, a quiz over that week’s chapter, and a debate. In Class vs. Class, the entire class answers questions together, and if we beat Mr. Cox’s other APUSH class, we win for that week, adding a point to the running scoreboard. In addition to in-class instruction, a weekly “Zinn” assignment is to be turned in through eClass. The Zinn is a series of questions on a chapter of Howard Zinn’s book, “A People’s History of the United States”, and it’s aimed to sharpen the analysis skills we need for the Document Based Question (DBQ) portion of the AP Exam.

Not only does Mr. Cox have a battle-tested teaching strategy, but he also motivates us by informing us of our grades each week to keep us on track.

“If you’re above the line, you will pass the AP Exam if you keep working hard,” he often reminds us. Being “above the line” means having a passing grade in the class. An A generally corresponds to a 5 on the exam, a B usually predicts a 4, and so on. Of course, by putting in the effort to learn and study, virtually any student can get a 5. As Mr. Cox says, “Learning physics is like trying to understand the mind of God, but all you have to do to succeed in APUSH is read the textbook.”

Mr. Cox also has amazingly clever incentives. For instance, the class that wins Class vs. Class is rewarded with extra cupcakes, the hegemony trophy, a signed portrait of him, a longer live performance of him on his guitar, meeting his dogs in the parking lot, and dropping everyone’s lowest quiz grade, all awarded at the end of the semester. Furthermore, the extra credit DBQs are worth writing, extra credit movies worth watching, and extra credit Zinns worth completing.