Education: BSE Psychology, History, UW-Whitewater (87); M.A. Ed., Psychology, Viterbo University, 2001
Position: Advanced Placement Psychology, and Adolescent Psychology teacher
School: Verona Area High School
Years in education: 33
Years in VASD: 32
What inspired you to get into education?
I have always enjoyed working with high school students as a tutor, and coaching baseball. I had never planned on teaching as a career until later in college when I was inspired by several professors who I really connected with. I also tutored some high school students who struggled academically. It was a very rewarding experience. I also helped coach high school baseball as an unpaid assistant and thoroughly enjoyed that as well. These experiences were both challenging and rewarding. I guess this led me to look into education as a way to combine my love for studying psychology and history, as well as, working with high school students.
What is like ending your career with doing virtual learning?
Teaching virtually is not how I planned to end my career. This experience certainly reaffirmed to me that the magic of teaching occurs in the face-to-face interaction in the classroom. The art that is teaching occurs in the minute to minute connections and adjustment within the class, whether it be with a group of students trying to create a skit that represents a psychological theory, or an individual who is discovering how to apply a concept about perception to their own experiences. Adjusting how a concept is presented, altering an activity to match students’ understanding, noticing a look of academic vulnerability, student risk-taking, vicarious student learning, that is what I miss. I miss the relationships, helping students when they struggle, giving students affirmation when needed, and watching the students discover their strengths. We all missed an opportunity to say goodbye, to have closure. It might just be a bit tougher for the retirees who missed that sense of closure with students and colleagues.
What is a favorite memory of your time in the Verona Area School District?
While sounding cliche, my specific favorite memories I will keep to myself. But those memories always involve watching a student discover strengths that they didn’t know they had. When students develop a confidence in themselves that they didn’t have before. I was lucky enough to create my own job by teaching AP Psychology for the last 23 years. I get to watch students enthusiastically discover and apply concepts that were new to them almost everyday. Those experiences all add up to my favorite experiences.
What will you miss about working in the school district?
The people. I will miss the students, they gave me purpose. I will miss their enthusiasm, their willingness to be vulnerable academically, their stories. All the students walk into class with a unique story. Despite their youth, their stories are always fascinating whether it be their struggles or their victories. I will miss it when they all work together to develop a community where they’re comfortable enough to take academic risks to master an activity, present to their peers, or when they discover that being a scholar can be fun. That experience will be difficult to replace. I will miss my colleagues. They are a superior group of humans. Each staff member really brings it every day to challenge the students and look out for their well-being. The staff at VAHS motivated me to try to do something better each day in class. I will miss the support staff, custodians, office staff. Each of them made me more effective and made the job easier and I would like to thank them for that.
Why are you retiring now?
It is simply my time to do so.
What are your plans for retirement?
Those are sort of up in the air right now. I will take a deep breath and hope that the summer allows us all to expand our public presence. It really won’t feel like retirement until I realize that I don’t have that panicky feeling of having to go into school and prepare for the next school year. Can you ask me again next September? I will probably be fishing and a lake, or standing in a river somewhere. I usually turn my phone off though. Hopefully, traveling with my wife, spending more time with my mom, catching up on non-academic reading. Enjoying life, friends, and family.