By: Aidan Borsh
Current seniors that were in Mr. Osborne’s 10th grade class will remember the infamous Mr. Akatu. (Although, if Mr. Akatu is more memorable than Mr. Livieratos’ student teacher, Mr. “M,” is up for debate). While Mr. “M” quickly abandoned his desire of becoming a high school teacher, Mr. Akatu stuck with it. The former running back for the University of Maryland Terrapins and graduate of Towson now spends his days teaching in his own classroom at Rockville High School.
At Hammond he touched many lives, mainly by angering several 10th graders about the plot of Life of Pi. Nonetheless, his teaching was only a small slice of why this man kept life interesting through the stress of sophomore year. From his newsboy cap, to the fact that he pours his milk before his cereal,
What were the biggest challenges in becoming a teacher (at Rockville)?
The curriculum was completely different and it was challenging to plan, provide feedback, and prepare content on the fly. I also coached football and wrestling so free time and weekends were a bit of a myth.
What unit/novel is your favorite to teach and why?
I enjoyed teaching sci-fi and fantasy because it offered keen insight into our own society. I found texts like Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451″ particularly relevant to a highly technology-dependent group. Also, short stories like Ursula Le Guin’s”The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” forced my students to think about their circumstances in relation to their community.
What are the most noticeable similarities/differences you’ve experienced at Rockville and Hammond?
Having interned with 10th grade at Hammond and now currently teaching exclusively 10th grade at Rockville, I’ve found that students at both were at a pivotal point in their development both socially and academically. The rigor picks up in the classroom; simultaneously most 10th graders are navigating their individual identity after spending most of freshman year shellshocked.
What is a lesson you learned from Hammond that shaped your teaching style/outlook on teaching?
My biggest takeaway from Hammond was a reinforcement of the notion that young people can and do make a difference in their community. So many of the students I came across immersed themselves in activities and clubs that actively engaged real world issues in a substantive way. With that experience, I realized that what I say has the ability to impact someone, and it’s my duty to continue to empower, encourage, and also challenge them.
What do you miss most about Hammond?
This isn’t a criticism of any place I went to school or any place I’ve worked; rather, it is a testament to the uniqueness of Hammond. The camaraderie and sense of family among the Hammond community is something I will never forget. In a world that often seems so divisive and cynical now, Hammond folks genuinely celebrate each other.
Do you still pour your milk before the cereal?
Funny you ask…
Happy early birthday! Do you have any plans to celebrate?
I have no idea how you all remember! There’s a new rescue dog, Maci, and she is getting knee surgery that very day so the birthday is likely to be low key.
The Bear Press sends best wishes to Mr. Akatu. We miss you!