Robert VonNordheim, English Teacher
This is a part of a continuing series profiling all of the new new teachers and staff in the building. This story is about Robert VonNoordheim.
Q: Why do you go by Mr. Von and not the whole VonNoordheim?
A: Well, in the past I’ve tried to get students to call me by my whole last name and they have trouble remembering it, or they just butcher it. I also kinda want to send the message that even though I need a certain level of respect because I’m a teacher (you must call me Mister, don’t call me Robert) you don’t have to call me the whole thing, so it makes it a little casual while still keeping it respectful.
Q: Where did you go for college?
A: I went to U of I Springfield, I got my Bachelor’s in English there, and I got a license to teach high school English.
Q: Why did you choose Grand Center Arts Academy?
A: Well I’d been working at an elementary school before coming here, I’d been teaching 3rd grade Language Arts, and I had just realized that I was really missing high school, it’s what I student taught, I missed doing book studies and novel discussions. GCAA is 3 minutes from where I live, so I can walk to work if I wanted to. I think that this is just an exciting place with a lot of energy. I really like the diversity of this school. I don’t just mean culturally, I mean there’s a diversity of opinion too, and all the students here have something that they’re passionate about. That’s what I like most about this place.
Q: What do you think is the biggest difference between teaching here and teaching back at your old school, teaching 3rd graders?
A: I feel like at this school, there is more of a mutual understanding, mutual respect, between the teachers and the students. I found so far that it feels like I don’t need to fight to get my students attention. They know when to listen that might just be because it’s an older age group maybe just my personality and my teaching style is more appreciated here.
Q: What are some similarities that you didn’t think you’d be seeing between teaching here and teaching at your old school?
A: I guess I’m seeing that a lot of my students here, they have some of the same struggles outside of school as my students at my previous school. I know that I have a lot of students that are dealing with family problems, financial problems, and I feel like i can relate because i dealt with that a lot when i was growing up too. At the same time I know that my experience is very different from theirs and I’m not going to assume… Everybody has a different experience, right? Yeah, exactly.
I found that a lot of students at my old school they had a lot of the same problems maybe they didn’t have a great home life or maybe a family that looked out for them i feel like at this school there’s a lot more support for those students in need which i really appreciate
Q: What are your long term goals for your students and classes?
A: With my creative writing class I want my students to feel confident in their writing I want to give them the tools they need, and the structure they need so they can just get in the habit of writing for themselves, so that in the future they’ll have this great talent they can use whenever they want to just another way to express themselves
For American Lit I want my students to be able to read a work a fiction that’s challenging that changes their thinking and be able to understand it and interpret it on their own that’s my goal for them.
Q: What’s your favorite book?
A: If you put me on the spot, I would have to say 1984 by George Orwell. I feel like I’m always really impressed by writers that create a world that’s very different than the one we live in and kinda ore mt to see things from the main character point of view. Do you know much about 1984?
Q: I know some about it but not a whole lot, but I read The Time Machine.
A: Oh, that’s Orson Wells, not George Orwell, people mix them up. That’s a book that I would love to teach here sometime. Right now I only have american lit, and its British maybe in the future.
Q: So you like George Orwell, is there anyone else that’s a favorite writer for you?
A: Well I’m gonna plug Margaret Atwood, because I’m teaching one of her novels right now. I’m actually teaching her most famous novel which is called The Handmaid’s Tale, she has a lot of other really good books too.
Q: Didn’t she write Oryx and Crake?
A: She did! Oh you know about that?
Yeah I was writing about it the other day in creative writing
Awesome, I was actually just thinking have I talked about it in your class yet? (no) because I’ve mentioned it in a couple of others, people were asking, “what are some other books Margaret Atwood has written?” and I’ve been telling them about Oryx and Crake.
Q: What music do you like to listen to while you write?
A: Whenever I am reading or writing I have a really strict rule that whatever I’m listening to is mostly instrumental. If I listen to things with too many lyrics, the words will get all jumbled up, so I mostly listen to electronic music.
Q: What are some of the artists you listen to?
A: Anything with a beat, so I like Daft Punk, Aphex Twin, and Stereolab.