No. He’s not conspiracy theorist Jacob Wohl. This 25-year-old from Tenleytown has been teaching 4th grade at Bethesda Elementary School for three years. It’s what he has wanted to do since he was little, and his classroom is packed with books from his own grammar school days.
What made you want to be a teacher?
When I was a kid, I had a really hard time in school: behaviorally, attention-wise, focus-wise. I was young for my grade. I didn’t necessarily fit in a lot and so there was a lot of times where I felt that some of the teachers that I had could have done more.
And so my goal was that I always wanted to be a resource for students, both academically and emotionally.
Why focus on special education?
When my dad remarried, he had another son when I was 12 or 13. Then after that, they had another kid who was diagnosed with Down syndrome, and that threw me into the special education world. Our world, in a positive way, was heavily focused on what inclusion looked like, what disability looked like and, for me, what did that look like for
I spent a summer before college interning at the Department of Education’s office of special education and disability services. I didn’t want to become a teacher if I wasn’t assured there was a backbone that protected people like
Was there a particular reason that you wanted to teach elementary school?
That has always been the age that I’ve connected with the most. I think that elementary school kids need the most support and are often the ones most overlooked.
High school kids have very specific needs that get talked about a lot in the news. I think middle school is often that age that nobody likes to talk about but everyone knows you’ll make it through. I think elementary school is when you can really set the foundation for who the kid is going to become. And so I always wanted to be a positive influence on creating an engaged future community so that always seemed to be the best way to do it.
Have you ever had any issues about being a male teacher?
I don’t know about issues. There are a couple of benefits. The parents love having a male teacher for their kids. Not necessarily for any other reason than it’s just different. It often puts the kids back a little bit on their heels and makes them change their behavior. Then a lot of times the boys in my class who have been cast off in previous years, we have a really strong connection where I can kind of pull them out of the woodwork a bit.
But, there are often times where you walk into a room and people assume you don’t know as much, that you are not as nurturing, that you are, you know, what career did I give up to be here? More importantly, I work in a building that is 90, 95-percent women and I need to know how to carry myself in that building.
What is your favorite subject to teach?
Reading without a doubt. Teaching reading for so many kids, it’s such a daunting task. The kids who don’t like reading tend to like math because they love the formulaic side of it, and they’re like, “I can solve any math problem.” And what is often forgotten is that reading has similar formulas.
So, I have to ask: Did you know you share your name with a conspiracy theorist?
The Trump supporter? I do, yes. I would love to have him with my children, though. They would eat him alive. His world view is so backwards that my kids would destroy him, they would run circles around him both intellectually and emotionally. They would just tear him apart.
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