All Kinds of News for January 11, 2017
Mark Regier has been working with teenagers in treatment-specific settings for 10 years. He joined the English Department at Gateway Academy in 2014. Mark loves the Gateway academic model because he recognizes the challenges traditional schools can present to modern boys. Therefore, his instruction consistently includes a "why you should care about this" conversation with his students. He helps his students see their English education in terms of the highly desirable outcomes of being understood and understanding others. Mark loves life and uses personal anecdotes to help his students stay motivated to work hard in class and therapy so they can eventually leave Gateway and enjoy some of the freedom that clear communicators can create for themselves.
- What is most rewarding about working at Gateway?
Mark: The most rewarding thing about working at Gateway is being able to teach life skills to my students. In more traditional academic settings, teachers are constrained -- either by the sheer numbers of students in their classrooms or by the so-called rules of professionalism that prevent them from truly guiding, coaching, goading, parenting and caring for their students. At Gateway, if a student doesn't feel comfortable working in a group, I have the freedom to help him improve those social skills. If a student has an off-putting hygiene issue, I can help him see how it's affecting his relationships. When I have a student who knows the answer to every question and wants everyone to know it, I can help him see how those actions are intimidating others. And most importantly, it is fully within my role here to guide students in their executive functioning development: it doesn't matter how well they can read, comprehend, write or think if they're not showing up on time and prepared for class. Teaching this "hidden curriculum" of school is highly rewarding because my students find that outlet for their intellectual energy again!
- What is your favorite book and why?
Mark: As an English teacher, this is the hardest question you could have asked me. East of Eden by John Steinbeck is equally well written and profound. Its essential message is one that is weighty and freeing: we all have the power to choose what we do with our lives. Steinbeck's characters are always earthy and fully human -- this is no "you can do anything" manifesto. Everyone is constrained by the circumstances of their birth: yet we can decide. I don't think a message like this is lost on high-school students, so even though I don't teach this 500+ page novel, I entrust them with the truths that it contains -- there's a lot about life we can't control. And there's a lot that we can.
- What is your favorite brain rule and how do you integrate it in the classroom?
Mark: Brain Rule #4 - We don't pay attention to boring things. Bored brains don't learn. Let's face it: we're all cognitive misers. We don't readily spend our mental energies on lessons, concepts, or information that isn't relevant to us. So how does a high-schooler, who has seen so little of the world, know what will eventually be relevant to them? Here's another educational secret: they have to trust their teachers. In this, I'm happy to be teaching English, because competence with language is just as essential to a researcher writing a grant proposal as it is for an aspiring author. So before, during, and often after a lesson on punctuation or topic sentences or reading strategies for difficult texts, I share my own real-life examples of times when proficiency in communication made the difference between being forgiven and being rejected, not getting the speeding ticket or having to pay the fine. Writing skills get us respect, access to services and refunds that we maybe didn't deserve.
- When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Mark: I grew up in a small town in Colorado, and I basically wanted to be an action figure. BMX bicycle rider, pro snowboarder, mountain climber, motorcycle rider. Now that I think about it, I guess I've accomplished my dream!
- What is your favorite thing about living in Utah?
Mark: Salt Lake City is a hidden gem of the west. I regularly go rock climbing or skiing before work. In very few other places can one have such quick access to mountains as in the Wasatch front. This close proximity allows me to more easily live out a truth from the Romantic philosophical movement (which has been confirmed by research): a healthy life requires a balance between action and inaction, comfort and challenge. Climbing mountains has allowed me to apply the lessons of great literature: work hard, challenge yourself, go somewhere quiet and listen for your own soul.
About Gateway AcademyGateway Academy (UT) is dedicated to the healthy development and healing of adolescent boys and their families. We provide a safe and nurturing environment through five integrated programs: Therapy, Academics, Community, Outdoor Education and Fitness. With integrity and respect, we help students feel empowered and valued, build healthy relationships, make thoughtful decisions, develop life skills, become life-long learners, and achieve their personal best.