Lion's Roar

Meet Mr. Upton

Leighton Upton didn’t always want to be a teacher. With a grandmother, aunts and uncles, and parents as educators, Uptonsaw firsthand the difficulty of teaching and didn’t plan to follow the family trend and become a teacher. But, over time, he changed his mind and is now a Bible teacher, coach, and Student Life Director at Lakeway Christian Academy.

Upton attended Bob Jones University and there earned hisdegree in Religion.

“I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with my major in Religion. I just knew I liked studying Religion, and I knew that I wanted to somehow be in a line of work that helped people in some capacity or another,” said Upton.

After graduating from BJU, Upton decided to pursue a master’s degree in Christian Education and Counseling at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

“That’s where I realized teaching is what I want to do. I was able to intern at a school in Raleigh...and that moment where I was actually able to get up and teach on a consistent basis helped me know that I wanted to be able to daily impact students’ lives,” said Upton.

With graduation from his master’s degree program approaching, Upton applied for jobs at many schools, with a strong preference to land at a private Christian school. He received interest fromCornerstone Academy, which is now Lakeway Christian Academy. Through an interview with then headmaster, BenHolland, Upton found that he agreed with the vision and direction of the school and was interested in the position.

“It was funny, actually while I was walking into the building to graduate, I got a phone call that said I was hired,” said Upton.

Fast forward to 2021, Upton is in his 5th year of teaching at what is now Lakeway Christian Academy. In his time at Lakeway, he has taught Old Testament Survey, New Testament Survey, Church History, and World Religions...all central parts of the study of theology and quite distinct from any other discipline.

“Studying Bible is academic, but it’s also something that we apply to our lives. It’s important to understand the history around the Bible and that it is a literary document that should be interpreted and read carefully within its context. It’s very important to study those factors, but it’s also a document that changes our lives through showing us how to have a personal relationship with God,” said Upton.

Upton approaches his Bible classes with this balance of intellectuality and practicality in mind.

“Mr. Upton has challenged me to read the Bible on a deeper level. He has helped strengthen my desire to study God’s Word for even better understanding!” said junior Church History student, Addie Brown, “Always having a class that is specifically teaching you about the Bible is so helpful, especially when you are going through something difficult. I have had so many lightbulb moments while sitting in his class.”

In addition to teaching, Upton is also Student Life Director and assistant varsity men’s soccer coach and head JV men’s soccer coach. Upton works half the day as a classroom teacher, and the other half as Student Life Director. In this capacity, he works to support healthy student culture through organizing coalitions and other student activities such as movie nights and day trips to name a couple.

Currently, as Upton seeks to educate the students of Lakeway Christian Academy, he is furthering his own education through pursuing a doctorate in education and leadership from the University of Tennessee in order to become a better educatorand leader.

Upton is still keenly aware of the challenges of being an educator that he witnessed in the many educators that came before him in his family. But he is certain that teaching, after all, is exactly what he is supposed to be doing.

Upton has 3 goals for the students of Lakeway Christian Academy, 3 goals that he seeks to teach through both his lectures and his life.

“Spiritually, my ultimate goal is that they would have a personal relationship with Jesus. As a person, I want them to learn that hard work is important, and hard work pays off. From an educational standpoint, I want them to be able to think critically, be able to communicate well, and to not take things at face value—to be discerning of what is truth,” said Upton.