Q&A with new Economics teacher William Bordelon


photo by Jake Arthur

With the departure of old Economics teacher Robert Potter, William Bordelon is starting his first year teaching at Hagerty High School as Potter’s replacement. Bordelon is the Honors Economics and AP Macroeconomics teacher.

Where did you teach before coming to Hagerty?

I was at University High School in Orange City. I helped open the school, so I was there for five years… Before that, I taught one year at East Ridge [High School] in Lake County.

What made you get into teaching?

Accident. In 2008, the economy crashed, and I was a lawyer up in New York, and I had my own solo practice, and it was fine, and then the economy crashed and my clients were filing bankruptcy. I ended up closing my shop in January, not just because of the economy, but my family’s here [in Florida], and my mom had fallen down a flight of stairs, and she needed some help with physical therapy so I came down here to help her. As she got better, though, I needed something to do with my day, and I found a job teaching, and that was at East Ridge, and I’ve been here ever since.

Bordelon teaches by asking his students questions throughout the class period and helping them figure out the answer. He is in his seventh year of teaching.
photo by Jake Arthur
Economics teacher William Bordelon teaches by asking his students questions throughout the class period and helping them figure out the answer. He is in his seventh year of teaching.

What kind of law did you practice?

I did business law and intellectual property and internet law, primarily. I did that for a couple years. Basically, I was getting businesses started up, especially online businesses.

What made you want to become a lawyer?

I went to grad school for International Affairs, and I worked for the Chemical Weapons Convention for a while. We were destroying chemical weapons for the United States, and there were inspections that would go on, and you’d have inspectors at the negotiation table, and that’s sort of how I got interested in the legal aspect and that’s why I went to law school. I’ve done a lot. [What we did] was basically [destroy] the containers or the munitions, not the agent itself. There were other places that were in charge of that. I basically helped keep track of destroying the delivery vehicles, the actual weapons themselves, rather than the agent. That was my first real job out of grad school.

How did you go from being a lawyer to teaching Economics?

Well, Economics actually was later on. I first taught US History, and Psych[ology] and Sociology, and then I taught French and World History and Spanish, and then in my third year teaching is when I started teaching Economics, and I’ve been teaching Economics ever since. Originally, I wanted to teach Government, but they [the school] needed someone to teach Economics, and I was kind of a natural fit given what I’d already done, and I wasn’t going to say no… But, once I got into it, I just fell in love with it. Now I love teaching it, I can’t imagine really teaching anything else.

What makes Economics better than the other classes you have taught?

My students at the end of the course know more [about the economy] than Congress, and I mean that. I am both proud and appalled by that fact, but I mean it. What I do in this class makes you better citizens, not just in terms of your personal financing. Yeah, it’s important to know how to balance a checkbook and not go into 500,000 dollars of student loan debt. I get that. But being able to listen to people in your government as they basically rattle off this [economic jargon], and being able to call them on it; I think that’s important. It’s one of the things that’s missing in our politics, is more people calling out politicians as they speak in this economic language because people are intimidated by it. My philosophy is this: if you can explain economics, whatever you’re studying in my class, to your mom, and she doesn’t go, “That’s nice, dear,” then you understand the topic. Essentially, what you can do is you can explain it not only to other people, but you understand it yourself, so much so that you’ll start challenging other people when they start not being straight-forward with you. That’s honestly why I love teaching this.

Bordelon helps students during class. This is Bordelon's first year teaching at Hagerty.
photo by Jake Arthur
Bordelon helps students during class. This is Bordelon’s first year teaching at Hagerty.

Have you ever lived anywhere besides Florida or New York?

I’ve been in and out of Florida all my life. Half my life I’ve spent in Florida, the other half I’ve spent living in other places: New York, Lyons, Paris, Amsterdam, Washington, Baltimore, New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

Which has been your favorite place to live?

It’s hard to say, because León is really high up on my list because I’m very fond of it. Best food in the world, literally, very high level cuisine. Amsterdam, though, I just loved the architecture, and the Dutch themselves are kind of quirky, but God, the food was just terrible. You do not go to the Netherlands to eat food. In fact, most of the restaurants in the Netherlands are usually Indonesian, because that was a former colony, and frankly, Indonesian food is so much better than Dutch food… I’ve loved every place I’ve ever lived in.

How many languages do you speak?

I speak English and French; I studied French in college… I used to speak a fair amount of Dutch, but I’ve lost that. I studied Russian in college, but again, that’s lost. I can do some Spanish, not very well, and Italian; I studied Japanese for a semester in grad school, but really French and Dutch were probably my better languages.

Do you have any siblings?

Yeah. I have, let’s see… Daryl, Randy, Shaun, Billy, Haley, Lacy, Julie, Ronda and Tracy. I’m the third youngest out of ten, so I’m the eighth.

You said you got into teaching by accident, but did you ever have any thoughts before of becoming a teacher?

Yeah, but I always thought it was going to be something I would go to later in life. I’d practice [law] for 20 years, and then come back to teach in a classroom. I did like communicating information, I really like that. I’ve flirted with the idea of teaching kindergarten. At the same time, I like teaching seniors and I like teaching high school, and there is a challenge to each grade. With freshmen, it’s not just about teaching content, it’s also teaching behavioral norms. With seniors, it’s a bigger challenge. You’re talking about students who’ve seen it all. They’re done playing the games. They already got one foot out the door, so how do you get them in long enough to learn just a little bit more stuff before they walk across the stage at graduation? It gets worse by the fourth nine weeks, especially when the students realize we [the teachers] aren’t scary anymore. I like that challenge.