“On a scale of kinda intimidating to awesome, how cool is Mr. Vreeland?”
This is the question I posed to Ms. Bernier a few weeks ago. Her reply was simply, “awesome”.
So what makes this guy so awesome? After interviewing Hopkins’ new middle school English teacher I discovered many of the reasons why, and also what makes him unique.
Mr. Vreeland went to college to teach math or English and majored in education at Nichols college in Dudley, Massachusetts. Before that, he grew up in what he calls “The real Western Mass”, also known as the hill towns. He lived in a log cabin “heated by wood,” he told me proudly. He affirms that while Hadley is definitely not a back-woods town, it resembles the same homey qualities as Beckett, where he grew up.
Growing up he maintained a jock-type lifestyle playing baseball and soccer as well as doing martial arts and boxing. However, Mr. Vreeland was not the typical jock; he was also an English loving “hippie”. His high school love for English grew into a desire for a life-long career. Teaching at Hopkins Academy is his first teaching job after graduating this past May.
Other than the basic facts there are many things about Mr. Vreeland that make him so “awesome”. Mr. Vreeland has another strong passion other than teaching, comedy. Growing up, he wanted to be a stand up comedian, “Which is not too far from teaching,” he explained with a laugh. This quality gives him the advantage of being able to catch the attention of his squirmy middle school students. I asked Mr. Vreeland what qualities he thought he possessed that made him unique as a good teacher. He thinks that his good sense of humor helped him to relate to his students, and it is a good technique to get his students to settle down. Mr. Vreeland also strives to keep his youthful attitude and outlook so he can better understand and communicate with the kids he teaches. When I asked him what inspired him to be a teacher and sparked his interest, he explained his inspiration is,“the ability to see growth and accomplishment, along with the spark when a kid gets it.”
Mr. Vreeland’s secret teaching weapon isn’t just passion and a youthful perspective. During my interview with him I learned that he was home schooled in elementary and middle school. I asked him if he incorporated any of those home school style teaching techniques into his classroom. Mr. Vreeland disclosed that being home schooled forced him to be self motivated, and being self motivated gave him a great work ethic, which he believes is a very imperative life skill. So now when he teaches, he plans his lessons with the intention of instilling self motivation, which in turn, helps the students to not just learn, but to also reveal what they like to learn. Another key to Mr. Vreeland’s tactics is making the students learn on their own perspective instead of his own or the author’s. Having this approach requires the students to build opinions and not just look at art, writing, or simply life in a certain way because someone tells them to. Although Mr. Vreeland hasn’t been a teacher very long, my interview confirmed that he has really established great ideas, is creating an inspiring atmosphere for his students, and still maintains his awesomeness.