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Mystery Teacher

By: Emily Batka

Last weeks Mystery Teacher was: Mr. Reed

Here is this week's Mystery Teacher:

Where were you born, and where have you lived?

I was born in a blizzard in Maine, and the doctor didn’t make it in time for my birth. My mom was a nurse though, so she delivered me herself. I’ve lived in Alabama, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, Oregon, Massachusetts, and Michigan. Of course, I also spend some time on Mars.

Did you have any nicknames growing up?

In high school, a lot of people would call me “robo.” I think this was because I approached school, athletics, and probably even relationships like a robot.

What was your most memorable moment from high school?

I had this English class senior year where the teacher basically set it up so that we had to figure out how to teach the class to ourselves. We were in a circle, and he was sitting outside of the circle. It was fascinating.

What kind of car did you drive in high school?

Oh, I walked to school...and there were these workout machines along my route that I would use. I’ve actually only started driving to school/work since I’ve had kids.

What was your favorite class in high school?

AP Calculus

Where did you attend college?

Johns Hopkins University (bachelor's), Harvard University (master’s), Northeastern University (doctorate)

What is your favorite pastime?

Spending time in nature with my family (hiking, skiing, canoeing, swimming, camping, etc.)

What is your favorite quote?

“To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.” -from Mary Oliver’s poem “In Blackwater Woods”

What is your middle name?


Do you have any children?

Three children, an eight-year-old and five-year-old twins

Do you have any animals?

Three kids

What is the best thing about working in Spring Lake?

I love feeling connected to both the students and the staff while being able to learn really cool stuff about the world.

What is the last book you read?

During the quarantine, I tried to learn about birding, and I just finished David Sibley’s What It’s Like to Be a Bird. It goes through a bunch of different bird species and explains fascinating things about them with amazing illustrations.

What professional sport would you play if you could?

I played baseball in college, and I wanted to be a pro. I wasn’t good enough though...C’est la vie.

What would you be if you weren’t a teacher?

Probably an engineer. My family is chock full of engineers.

What is your favorite vacation spot?

There’s the ridge in New Hampshire where you can see across to Mount Washington. I love hiking and camping there.

What was your most embarrassing moment as a teacher?

It’s so bad that I honestly cannot write about it. I’ve definitely had some difficult moments where I have said things in the language of my generation only to learn that normal human words mean something different to younger folks.

What is your favorite restaurant?

I haven’t eaten out much throughout the virus, but in addition to birdwatching, I’ve also been trying to do a better job cooking. I want to understand it, so I read this book called Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat, which explains the principles of good cooking. She’s a great teacher, and I feel that my cooking skills are getting a bit better.

What songs/artists are on your playlist?

I absolutely love Bob Dylan and Gillian Welch. Bob Dylan just came out with a new album. Here’s one of my favorite lines:

I got up early

So I could greet the goddess of the dawn

I painted my wagon, abandoned all hope

And I crossed the Rubicon

I like music that tells the truth about the joys and sorrows of life.

What would you change about education if you were in charge?

I would try to focus on how much students learn across a wider array of topics. I think we should learn about fixing cars and being compassionate, as well as traditional academic subjects. I would also try to focus more on how much students learn across their whole lifespan not just high school. I also wish we could do away with standardized testing. It seems dehumanizing to me.

Any other interesting factoids you’d like to share about yourself, things perhaps no one else at SLHS would know about?

I really love stuff that lasts forever. I have a dream of buying each thing in my life once and having that thing last forever. For example, I love cast iron pans. They’re going to last forever. I’ll be able to give them to my grandchildren...if they care. What if I could buy shoes that I could just keep repairing and have them my whole life, or a car. One car for my whole life!

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