Teacher Feature: Mr. Denlinger

Sam Bisno, Editor

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On September 26th, 2016, I interviewed Mr. Ted Denlinger, a teacher at Obama. He was gracious enough to let me eat lunch in his room while we chatted. Even taking a quick a look around his room revealed that he is really enthusiastic about what he does. Posters with famous quotations and an excerpt from the First Amendment covered the walls. A pile of papers to grade lay next to Mr. Denlinger, and he swept the floor before sitting down with me. During the interview, we talked about his career and teaching beliefs.

Sam Bisno: What classes do you teach here at Obama?

Mr. Denlinger: I teach journalism and English 4.

S.B.: Where did you work before you were here?

Mr. D.: Before I was here, I worked at Allderdice High School and I worked at Carrick High School, and before that I did mental health counseling.

S.B.: How many years have you been here?

Mr. D.: I’ve taught at Obama for seven years now.

S.B.: What made you decide to come here?

Mr. D.: I liked the idea of what Obama represents and how it’s a full inclusive International Baccalaureate school for everybody.

S.B.: Do you run any extracurricular activities here at the school?

Mr. D.: Yeah! I’m the advisor for the yearbook and the Eagle Online newspaper.

S.B.: What made you get interested in these?

Mr. D.: [laughs] Well, both of them were kind of handed off to me by people who had been doing them previously and suggested that I do them, so I said, “I’m on!”

S.B.: What’s your favorite part about being a teacher?

Mr. D.: My favorite part about being a teacher is, well, seeing students change over the course of high school, but seeing them, like, learn and develop their critical thinking as they grow.

S.B.: What is your biggest pet peeve as a teacher?

Mr. D.: My biggest pet peeve is, maybe, having to do things that aren’t related to teaching…well, aren’t related to my classes. For example, having to cover somebody else’s class is my pet peeve.

S.B.: Has your teaching philosophy changed throughout your years as a professor?

Mr. D.: It probably has changed to a certain degree. I feel like my teaching now focuses more on learning through experience and small group discussion. Maybe when I started teaching I was a little bit more didactic or, you know, giving lessons, which is a more traditional way of teaching.

S.B.: Finally, if you could impart one value upon your students, what would it be?

Mr. D.: One value…wow! Probably tolerance, although maybe that’s not the right word. I think that’s probably not the right word, but a tolerance for everybody. Yeah, I’ll say that.

S.B.: Cool. Thank you.

Mr. D.: Yep!

It was a pleasure to sit down with Mr. Denlinger for a few minutes and confabulate. We talked about a wide variety of topics related to his teaching, from his biggest pet peeve to his most important value to communicate to his students. His humor, altruism, and pure dedication to his work were revealed through his responses. Hopefully this short dialogue allows you some measure of insight into the mind of one of your teachers. Big thanks to Mr. Denlinger for taking the time to talk to me.

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