Every year, teachers, parents and students are given the opportunity to nominate teachers they think are deserving of being named Teacher of the Year. For the 2019-2020 school year, Mr. Peter Schuenzel, a mathematics teacher at Hills, received this honor. Mr. Schuenzel teaches Math Analysis 1 and 2 as well as Geometry Honors.
For the students that are fortunate enough to be in his classes, Mr. Schuenzel has truly been a guiding light throughout their high school journey. Mr. Schuenzel goes above and beyond to ensure his students understand the content. He changes his teaching style to adapt to different students’ needs and regularly dedicates his personal time to help them work through difficult problems. Some students joke that he is the “father of the Academy”. There could not be a more apt description. Many students say that they have never met a teacher who cares so deeply for all of his students. In class, he tries his hardest to alleviate the pressures of the content, and his positive outlook on every situation transfers to his students. When recalling his class, junior Shreshta Kethireddy smiled, saying, “Mr. Schuenzel taught me that it was okay to not always do my best, but I should always strive to be the best version of myself.” His optimism and relentless enthusiasm are refreshing among humdrum daily affairs. As junior Zoe Tweedie remarked, “Mr. Schuenzel doesn’t just teach for a test or a quiz; he teaches for life.”
Mr. Schuenzel is one of many teachers who greets his students every morning. The difference, however, is how he stops to truly hear how they are doing. Amanda Wang shared how her favorite memory of him was when before a pep rally, Mr. Schuenzel took a moment out of his day to greet her with a warm hug and hear how her junior year was going. He genuinely cares for everyone in his life, no matter their relation to him, and places just as much importance on mental health as others do on physical health. When asking about his retirement plans, Mr. Schuenzel shared that he plans on spending time with his grandchildren and hopes to do some advocacy work, perhaps helping inmates at the local prison with their education.
From sharing a packet of cheesy math jokes to flaunting his matching trigonometry tie and socks, building the outdoor classroom,and so many more amazing moments, Mr. Schuenzel is and always has been a dedicated and compassionate teacher whose contagious laughter has brightened the lives of everyone around him. He summarized his time at Hills as wonderful. This winter, Mr. Schuenzel announced his retirement at the Academy breakfast, and no junior or senior in attendance had a dry eye. There is no one more deserving of being recognized as “Teacher of the Year”.