Interview with Mr. Jahnke

Titilope Akinnitire, Features Editor

Several years ago, Mr. Jahnke began working at HMSA, and he’s been teaching here at our small school ever since. So, who exactly is Mr. Jahnke? For those of you who don’t know, he presently teaches English for seniors, and AP Language and Composition for juniors. One thing’s for sure: he may be the master of Language Arts, but he’s more than anything a mystery to those who haven’t had him. Teachers are just like us; they’ve got their own lives, hopes and dreams. Their only goal in life isn’t to give us log entries. Whether you’re a freshman who’s never heard of him, or a senior who’s had him twice, I intend to shed some light on who Mr. Jahnke is deep down.


My first order of business was simple: I wanted to understand what motivated Mr. Jahnke to become a teacher. For someone who’s interested in English, what stops them from pursuing a more outlandish dream such as being an author, or perhaps journalism? To my surprise, Mr. Jahnke argued that “teaching chose him.” His heart didn’t originally belong to teaching. Low and behold, before he wanted to be a teacher, Mr. Jahnke actually wanted to pursue music with his band. Sadly, the band split up. Lucky for us students, after the band broke up, Mr. Jahnke realized that anyone with a degree could become a substitute teacher. Thus, the educational dream of a would-be English teacher took off. I think it’s safe to say that HMSA wouldn’t be the same without the “Jahnke experience” students get in his class; there’s nothing quite like it.


With that out of the way, I let my curiosity get the better of me. I wanted to know more about his personal life beyond teaching and beyond the walls that made up his classroom.


Mr. Jahnke has discussed his “cheese tooth” with us before, with it being an addiction to cheese crackers. His preference lies with “the original Goldfish crackers, not the whole wheat ones, or the colored ones”. He also regarded Tahini, a peanut-based spread, as a favorite of his. I began to ask a range of various questions. First job? Pizza delivery boy. Favorite show? Mad Men. Favorite band? Radiohead.


I was determined to get more insight into the mind of my English teacher: “What are your biggest regrets?” Mr. Jahnke regrets not getting better grades in school, so he wouldn’t have to take out as many student loans for college. He wishes he learned Spanish way back in the eighth grade because of how useful it is in everyday life to be multilingual, though it’s never too late to learn. On the topic of regret, I went in search of an embarrassing moment. For Mr. Jahnke, this came in the form of Shark Week. He pulled into the airplane wearing a shark-print t-shirt. Unfortunately for him, this happened during Shark Week, causing an uproar of applause and chatter on the plane. “It looked like I was super into Shark Week, and I did not know it was Shark Week,” he said. He explained that this is a more embarrassing moment for him because he doesn’t get embarrassed often. He doesn’t like to put himself out there; he doesn’t think of himself as much of a risk taker. Who would’ve thought?


I then asked Mr. Jahnke if he would change anything provided he had the ability to travel backwards in time. His response was endearing; he reasoned that he wouldn’t have:

“No. My life’s not perfect, but when it comes to “would you do things differently”, no, I don’t think so. That changes the timeline. If I work harder in high school, maybe I’d get into a better college than I went to. If I went to a better college than I went to, I wouldn’t have met my wife. Then, I wouldn’t have my kids, and my two kids are my entire world. To have the kids I have now, I guess I did have to meet that girl at that school during that particular year. To mess with anything that happened before? I don’t think so. I think it worked out really well for me; I’m happy.”


From pizza delivery guy to band member, the English teacher is the Mr. Jahnke we’ve come to know at our school. It’s obvious that teachers have lives outside of school, but hearing such personal and human aspects from a teacher really put into perspective how much we forget this during the school day. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll find yourself at the reunion show for Mr. Jahnke’s band. Only time will tell.