Meet Mr. Hoekwater- Payton’s new Diverse Learners math teacher

By Kieran Blake, Contributor

As Payton welcomes the class of 2026 into the building for the first time, it also welcomes a new cohort of teachers. This year, there are 22 new staff members joining the WPCP community! I met with Mr. Hoekwater, a new math teacher at Payton to hear his story. 

In high school, Mr. Hoekwater’s love for math was coupled with a love for the tenor saxophone.

Paw Print: First and foremost, why did you choose to be a teacher?
Mr. Hoekwater: I had always thought about being a teacher. I had the unique opportunity to change careers and started working for a school, fell in love with what I was doing, and decided to go to grad school, get my masters, and become a teacher.

Paw Print: Why did you choose to teach at Payton?
Mr. Hoekwater: When I got the call from Ms. Moon-Sarudi to interview at Payton I was super excited. I’ve lived in the neighborhood before, I’ve worked just down the street, at the Chicago Board of Trade, and I’ve always known Payton to be a great place. When the opportunity to come here arose, I jumped at it.

Paw Print: What are some of the challenges of teaching at Payton?
Mr. Hoekwater: We have some really smart people here. Creating the appropriate environment, allowing and enabling students to be able to express themselves and then show their knowledge of the world is something we’re all working at and we’re all staying on top of. Also figuring out the east and west sides of the school.

Paw Print: So why did you choose to teach math?
Mr. Hoekwater: Since high school, math has always been one of my strengths and something I’ve enjoyed. It’s the type of games and strategy that I look at. I look at things that have made math absolutely something I’m interested in teaching.

Paw Print: So you mentioned that you used to be a bonds trader at the Chicago Board of Trade, could you tell us a little bit about what that was like?
Mr. Hoekwater: I began trading in 2002; I was there fifteen years. It was a fantastic place to work, it was an interesting place to work, it could be a stressful place to work. There was a lot of turnover there, I saw a lot of people come and go. It was an exciting place to work with a lot of great comradery, a lot of great people. I really made some great friendships that will surely last a lifetime.

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