Mr. Swanson: A Look into the Mind of Newnan High School’s Guru Of Economics

By: Tanner Ballard

From his comfortable yet low-to-the-ground chair, Newnan High School Economics and AP Economics Teacher, Mr. Chris Swanson, never lets his students leave class without learning something new.

Chris Swanson sits at his desk in his classroom at Newnan High School. (PHOTO, BALLARD)

“I love helping young people acquire new knowledge,” Mr. Swanson said. “I always bring in new things that I’ve learned.”

Mr. Swanson has been teaching Economics since 2003, but he never really planned on having anything to do with teaching.

“I started in 2003, and it was an accident,” Mr. Swanson said. “I thought ‘You know it might be fun for a little while.’”

Little did he know he’d be marking his 13th year of teaching this year. However, while teaching may not have been in his DNA, economics certainly was.

Born in Tampa, Florida, Mr. Swanson spent the bulk of his young life growing up in Columbus, Georgia. Growing up out in the country, Mr. Swanson and his four siblings never had a shortage of things to do, and Mr. Swanson was able to develop a lot of qualities that have become useful for him.

It was during his teenage years, however, that Mr. Swanson began to develop a knack for economics.

“You want to know who got me into the financial aspect of things and running business type things was my granddad,” Mr. Swanson said. “He owned a commercial plumbing, heating and air business.”

In fact, it was in his granddad’s business that Mr. Swanson got his first job and began to learn about the basics of finance and economics. “That was his life, how to run a business,” Mr. Swanson added.

While growing up, Mr. Swanson also learned the importance of education. He earned an associate degree, bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees from four different schools.

Now, Mr. Swanson couldn’t imagine his life without education, both the education he received and what he does daily to educate others.

“I love being able to say I have a purpose in what I do,” Mr. Swanson said. “Of course, having summers off doesn’t hurt either.”

With those convenient summers off, Mr. Swanson has been able to pursue some of his hobbies.

He is very much a hands-on person and enjoys building, woodworking and gardening. Mr. Swanson spent the bulk of last year putting his skills to the test as he helped to re-model an art studio for his wife, Sarah.

Chris Swanson stands near his bookshelves and below his wife’s paintings. (PHOTO, BALLARD)

When he isn’t building or teaching, there’s a good probability you’ll find Mr. Swanson reading.

An avid reader of books, Mr. Swanson is known for having a variety of books in his classroom shelves and always being able to share something from a book he has read.

His two favorite subjects? … If he had to pick them would be “Financial and economic topics and the history of religion,” Mr. Swanson answered.

“Those two forces have done more to shape our history than people realize,” Swanson said as he recalled some of the books he’s recently read. “It was Henry Ford that brought rural people out of isolation, and the creation of the King James Bible shaped and transformed the history of the English language.”

A man of many talents, Mr. Swanson is able to balance his teaching, love of books and hobbies with another duty of his, being a member of the Teacher Retirement System of Georgia Board of Trustees.

Appointed by Governor Nathan Deal, Mr. Swanson attends meetings every other month where the Board of Trustees is presented financial performance records. As a member of the Board, Swanson is able to represent the teachers of the state.

“Thankfully most meetings are boring,” Mr. Swanson said jokingly. “If they weren’t boring that would mean something’s wrong.”

Mr. Swanson’s expertise in economics earned him a spot on the Board of Trustees, and it’s this insight into economics that Swanson wishes everyone could have. Swanson noted, in his opinion, the severity of the lack of economic understanding that the world currently has.

“This is probably going to be heavier than anyone wants,” Swanson said. “People don’t understand the way the world needs to work to work efficiently.”

What is one way we might be able to solve this problem?

“Economic education,” Mr. Swanson said. “[It] is important, because if people don’t understand the basic principles economics teaches, they can be manipulated.”

Chris Swanson sits at his desk in his classroom at Newnan High School. (PHOTO, BALLARD)

Mr. Swanson’s passion for economics and teaching is prevalent in his views of the world and the way he teaches his students. When it comes to making an impact in the world, Mr. Swanson believes economic education is even more important.

“The lessons of economics have done more to eliminate poverty, to promote well being,” Swanson said. “Presidents did not bring electricity to people, the entrepreneur did. If you want to change the world, be an entrepreneur.”