“When I get tucked in at night and I know that Mr. Swoboda predicted a snow day, I don’t even set my alarm. That’s how confident I am,” said Peter Maurer (12). All of Portage Northern knows the famous “snow-boda” for his accurate snow day predictions along with his other quirky qualities that light up the first floor. However, most do not know that the beloved math teacher is finishing up his last year at PN and headed toward retirement.
In his many years at PN, Swoboda has managed to touch the lives of many and instill a true appreciation of math in his students. “I like the chance to impact students, and to have the chance to instill a love of math because it is easy. Calculus is not hard; it is difficult at times but it is reachable,” said Swoboda. With his wisdom and memorable personality, it is not difficult to find a student that he has impacted. “He always comes into class joking around and is enthusiastic about his job. As a student, you can tell when teachers are interested,” said Austin Killman (12).
Swoboda makes the dreaded subject of math enjoyable. “He’s always cracking jokes with people. He’s not [monotonous], he’s very interactive,” said Danna Robles (12).
Of course there is more to Swoboda’s wonderful teaching style than his sense of humor and engagement in with his students. “I like that Mr. Swoboda challenges us. It truly shows that he believes we can do the work and understand the material,” said Sophie Morin (12), “We strive to be better students because of this, which shows how great of a teacher he is.”
Swoboda believes in all of his students and gives each individual the keys that they need to succeed. “If you need help with something, he is more than willing to sit down with you and figure out where your problem is and fix it with you,” said Olivia Woods (12). He teaches the material in an engaging way, ensures that each student understands, and applies the content to life experiences. “I like how Swoboda connects math to real life and makes it interesting by telling jokes and stories,” said Cassie Lins (12).
“Portage Northern will miss my snow day predictions and ‘not having feelings;’ but beyond that I have no clue, I guess that is for other people to decide,” said Swoboda. Portage Northern will definitely miss Swoboda’s snow day predictions, but more importantly the entire staff and student body will miss his irreplaceable personality and teaching skills. “I’ll miss his knowledge and experience. The entire math department goes to him when they need a second opinion on anything,” said Mr. Messing, “his shoes are impossible to fill.”
It is extremely difficult to find a teacher with the wisdom and experience that Swoboda possesses. “I think PN will miss the staple of their math department; he’s been there for so long, he’s the best at what he does, and he has fun with it!” said Tommy Henry (12). Swoboda is not only the head of the math department, but is also the only calculus teacher in the building. “He’s really good at teaching calculus, so he will be hard to replace,” said Isaiah Dykstra (11). Nobody knows what next year will bring for Portage Northern, but we do know that the absence of Mr. Swoboda will be extremely noticeable.
“ I don’t even know if I can answer the question of where I will be in five years,” said Swoboda. His plans for the future are a blur considering that teaching at PN is all that Swoboda has ever known. “I’m looking forward to having some leisure time,” said Swoboda, “I’m going to be able to do whatever I want; I don’t even know how to explain it.” It’s hard to imagine this well known math teacher doing anything other than teaching math. “I see him teaching part time somewhere, drinking diet coke, and saying thirteen,” said Dykstra. Others choose to see him venturing out of his teaching comfort zone. “I see him as the richest powerball winner of all time,” said Paul Rozek (12).
But what all of the students are wondering is: how will we know when there will be a snow day? “Maybe I will put up a twitter for snow days if I can learn how to do that,” said Swoboda.
Wherever he ends up in the next few years, Mr. Swoboda will always hold a spot in Portage Northern’s heart. “I am stepping out of here thinking there is a plan for me,” said Swoboda, “I just have to find it.”