Saved by Swart

The story behind one of Noblesville’s most beloved teachers

Lauren Patrick and Kennedy Pastore

    History teacher Brandon Swart is hard on himself.

   He’ll tell you that himself, blunt and factual, especially when being asked about his accomplishments and his reputation within the school. He downplays the awards and brushes off the compliments. But as one of Noblesville’s most beloved teachers, many students agree that Swart deserves the praise he’s given.

     Junior Ethan Baker is a current student of Swart’s.

     “He’s like a model that people should follow. He’s a teacher that exemplifies what a teacher should be,” Baker said.

     In 2018, Swart was awarded Noblesville High School Teacher of the Year. He said he was shocked to receive it.

     “I’m very happy [that] somebody thought I deserved it,” Swart said.

     Swart’s been teaching for 17 years. All 17 of those years have been spent at Noblesville. Throughout that time, he’s been able to see the impact he’s had on his students and how he’s affected them through his class.

     “I really try to keep in contact with former students as much as possible,” Swart said. “I like seeing what they’re up to. I’ve had students contact me that I had, like, ten years ago, about something that they remember that we did in class and just the connection that they made.”

     Lots of students agree that Swart has had an impact on their lives, and that he’s always open to them when they need him.

     “I feel like he’s someone I can talk to about anything,” Baker said. “I don’t think he’s just a teacher in class, he’s like an actual person that I can go to talk to about things.”

     Swart’s colleagues also say his influence is remarkable. Fellow history teacher Stephanie Gilbert’s own children sat in his class and she has seen his impact first hand.

     “I’ve worked with Mr. Swart for 10 years, but I knew him as my son’s teacher the year before I started teaching at NHS,” Gilbert said. “He also had my daughter after that and they both still list him as one of their favorite teachers.”

     Gilbert said Swart is helpful to other teachers as well.

     “As a co-worker, he’s always available to collaborate or support other teachers. His door is always open,” Gilbert said. “He was a mentor to me when I was a new teacher 10 years ago.”

     For all the appreciation Swart gets from his students and coworkers, he says he still isn’t sure if he’s a ‘cool teacher.’ However, he does say that he tries to be a good one.

     “I think that something I try to do is just to talk to my students like they’re people,” Swart said. “Just because you’re young doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything to contribute or talk about. So just, talking to students like they’re real. And when they have something to say, even when it isn’t something that is directly on my target list of things we have to get through, I feel like I at least owe them an ear, to listen to it.”

     Swart teaches college-level classes here at NHS, and he says it can be tough to transition from high school classes to classes with higher expectations and work loads for his students.

     “For a lot of students, they don’t quite get it at first, the expectations and the stuff they have to do,” Swart said. “It’s quite a tightrope.”

     However, his students say he makes the material easy.

     “The fact [is] that it’s a college class but it doesn’t really seem like a college class that you dread going to. It’s also not that demanding, the blue books are difficult but with the preparation he helps you through it,” Baker said. “He understands what we have to learn but he knows how to attack it in ways that are digestible.”

       All in all, Swart says he strives to make a difference in his students’ lives, and does his best to make the material he’s teaching understandable and lasting for his classes.

     “I just think that being able to build students that will actually be able to function within society, talk with each other, listen to each other, think about what people say,” Swart said. “And also understanding some of the absurdity behind it, like how I point out some of the absurdity and ridiculousness of history and say, yeah, this is us.”