Your first name: Tom
Your last name: Kirkpatrick
What subject(s) do you teach? English and Stagecrafts
What clubs and extracurricular activities have you sponsored? None
What year did you begin teaching? 1990
How many years have you been a teacher? 30
How many years have you taught at Van Nuys High? 25
Did you have a prior career? If yes, what was it? I had lots of jobs – too many to mention. I did not have a prior career however.
What changes have you seen over the course of your career? Have they been positive, negative, or neutral? How did they impact your teaching? The impact of technology has changed so much about teaching and is clearly going to be making even bigger changes in the future. I’m sure that these changes will turn out to be positive rather than negative. The trouble is, we have to learn how to work the technology into our society so that we don’t drive each other crazy.
What were your biggest concerns when you began teaching? Did they turn out to be justified? My worst nightmares take place in an out-of-control classroom. And yes, I have been in such a place. But that hasn’t happened in a very long time. So yes, I experienced my biggest concern. But the good news is, I got over it.
Why did you decide to become a teacher in the first place? Teaching runs in my family. I grew up in a family full of teachers, so I realized that it was a great way to make a living if you’re passionate about the humanities. It’s good to be able to share respect or love for the arts and the humanities. It’s also good to be able to make a living in the arts, and teaching is a major way for artists to make a living. In my opinion, the vast majority of artists, whether they are in theatre, music, dance, or whatever, teach.
What did you like most about teaching? I really like to interact with the students. I like to try to make them laugh. I prefer just talking to my students, rather than trying to manage them.
What moment at Van Nuys High will you remember the most? Unfortunately, that would be 911.
What was your worst teacher moment? I’ve had many, and they will go to my grave, except for the ones I’ve told to Mr. Peterson. And he better keep quiet.
What are your plans after you retire? I plan to travel with my wife in the United States, and I plan to work in a small theatre wherever I am. I hope I can make that happen.