Mr. Halverson: the new science-loving Latin teacher

By Edna Aman, Contributor

Mr. Halverson is a new addition to Payton’s Latin Department for the 2021-22 school year.

The Paw Print: How long have you been teaching?

Mr. Halverson: This is my fifth year of teaching.

The Paw Print: Have you taught anything else other than Latin before?

Mr. Halverson: No, but I actually was just certified in middle school science, so I do have that… but I’ve never taught science.

The Paw Print: What’s your favorite type of science?

Mr. Halverson: I love physics. Actually I want to get certified in physics for high school physics. I love physics a lot.

The Paw Print: What drew you to teaching?

Mr. Halverson: That’s a big question. I’ve always loved learning; learning for the passion of learning. And so my parents instilled in me very early the importance of school and learning, and I’ve always wanted to continue and share that with others (different methods and styles and skills).

The Paw Print: What made you choose to teach Latin?

Mr. Halverson:  I actually started as an engineering major, and I thought that that was what I wanted to do, but I realized, two years into it, that I didn’t love it. I liked it. My classes were great, but I didn’t love the direction it was going. That’s when I thought back to the other things that I really loved learning about. So, I started looking into Latin. I’ve always gone back and forth in terms of the different choices for that. Teaching was one that really helped me tie in a lot of the interests that I’ve had because in the teaching of Latin, especially for high school, I get to teach so many different things; I get to teach the language, but I also get to teach history, culture, philosophy, economics, and social issues. We get to talk about engineering, we get to talk about religion and identity and a lot of very human things that really anyone can relate to, which is really cool.

The Paw Print: What drew you to Payton?

Mr. Halverson:  I was very excited to join the Payton community. I could see that there’s a lot of support for diverse learners. I was coming from a community that was kind of homogenous and I wanted to really explore a wider variety [of teaching]. The learning of Latin and Classics can be so diverse and are things that you [should] learn about with a very diverse group of people to really get an appreciation that more people can connect with those different ideas.

The Paw Print: What were your experiences teaching at other schools before Payton?

Mr. Halverson: I mean I’ve loved many places. I appreciate the opportunities that I’ve had because it really helped me grow as a teacher, especially as a young teacher. I taught in the northern suburbs, and I’ve taught a little bit in the west suburbs in central Illinois. However, though I think that overall those have been great formative things that have helped me learn, I’m very excited to be here.

The Paw Print: What sort of impact do you hope to have on your students and the school in general?

Mr. Halverson: I think overall, one of the big impacts that I could have on my students is to really help them get a feel for the many ways in which they can use Latin Classics; where they can see it in the world around them and get a deeper appreciation for different facets of our life and the way they’ve been affected and influenced by the ancient world, but also to challenge the preconceptions that people have. They’re not just limited to the ancient Romans, or the ancient Greeks. [I’d like them] to get a feel for what it was like for ancient Syrians, ancient Africans, ancient British people, Spanish people, etc. because Rome was one of the first truly multinational cities, and that really was a very cool phenomenon. For the larger Payton school, I’m just happy and excited to be a part of the community and to support students with their different endeavors. I’m working with Scholastic Books and I’m also very excited to get active with that group and just be a supporting part of the community.

The Paw Print: What do you think are the best ways that students can use what they learned in your class and apply it to their own lives?

Mr. Halverson: One of the things that I’m starting is a new tradition called Experience Day where we just talk for the beginning of class about where we see influences from what we’ve learned about, in the world around us. Already, people have been bringing in things like, “Oh, I was at this school and I saw their model in Latin” or, “I was talking with my father who is watching this podcast about blank and blank”. We’re sharing all of the different ways that we see these live, which is a super easy way to connect to what we’re learning about.

The Paw Print: What do you think is the most important challenge that students will face when they leave high school, and how do you prepare them for it?

Mr. Halverson: That’s a hard question because it’s going to be different for every person- every person is gonna face different challenges. The challenges are changing. I think a big challenge that many of us are starting to face is the role technology plays in our lives and coming to terms with that as an individual, as a group in society, and as a society as a whole (and what role that plays in our relationships, abilities, to communicate, and the way that we think). I think it has many benefits, but I think there are many, many, many things still to work out.

The Paw Print: How would you work to implement and improve equity in your class by making sure every kid gets what they need to pass and understand the concepts?

Mr. Halverson: I guess those are different parts. For equity for success in the class I think the biggest thing is two-way communication- really pushing for the relationship to be healthy. A relationship with communication [is best] so that we can talk about what’s going on; we can talk about strategies and work towards success together. I think really listening to students a lot helps because it’s taught me [quite a bit]. Due to Payton, I’ve already had lots of great conversations with students about what really works for them and what strategies they want to see and what to use. I think listening to each other really helps a lot. We’re also really working on representation in the curriculum for all persons, and some of the things that we’re moving towards are “how do we recognize the diversity of our fields in a more appropriate way, especially for students?”.

The Paw Print: What is your favorite color?

Mr. Halverson:  I’m very lucky, my favorite color is orange. I’m interesting. I went to University of Illinois, so orange and blue are my colors for undergrad and now they’re my colors at Payton; I love it. 

The Paw Print: Do you have a favorite movie?

Mr. Halverson: That’s hard. I’m probably going to pick the Harry Potter series. Those books were very special to me as a child.

The Paw Print: If you had to teach another subject what would it be?

Mr. Halverson: Philosophy, actually. I took a philosophy class when I was in high school; I haven’t found many schools that offer a philosophy class (public schools), and I would like to offer a full philosophy class at a high school. In Latin and Classics, we can talk about those things a little bit, but not as much as I would like. I definitely have a passion for philosophy, but I’d also do physics; I love physics.

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