Editor's note: Three of Rich Engel's students, Alyssa Statom, Peri Podratz, and Faith Hopkins conducted this community spotlight interview.
Sitting in the back of his classroom, a room that he made his own, Mr. Engel agreed to
What motivated you to become a teacher?
“Actually, I was motivated to become a firefighter.” laughed Mr. Engel as he answered the question. He continued saying that he kept his teaching credential current just in case he didn’t make it
What brought you to HOS?
"After I retired from the fire department, I taught for a year at public school." He noted that he still wanted to teach, but didn’t want to teach in the public school anymore. He knew there was a small school in Tehachapi, so he decided to ask if they needed an E
Why do you like teaching at HOS?
"The students are pleasant. The foundation here is Jesus Christ, the main subject we teach in all our classes." He stated, "You can’t do that in public schools."
How do you teach Christian Worldview in your classes?
"I let the curriculum teach the worldview. Because of the way it is set up, students are taught to discuss history and literature with a biblical worldview. We use the Bible to inform what we are reading, which reinforces the worldview in us."
What sets us apart from other students?
“You guys are a lot nicer,” proclaimed Mr. Engel. He mentioned that we are polite and we try to do the work well. "Every teacher at Heritage Oak School appreciates
What are some of your favorite moments with your students?
"My favorite moments are when I see the dawning of their minds on something that we are talking
What is your favorite memory of teaching?
"A young man came to me who had stolen money from the student treasury and gave it back before I had to ask him for it." Mr. Engel said that the student's confession made all the difference in how the school dealt with the young man. He remarked that the student also went before all the other students and confessed his sin and gave up his job as treasurer. “That was a low time in the school. Things could have gone really wrong with the student, but
What do you want your students to gain from having known you?
“Oh gosh,” chuckled Mr. Engel. “What I hope you gain is an understanding that even
Since you are retiring, are there any fireman stories you would like to share?
"I probably share more before the end of the semester," said Mr. Engel as he laughed. One of the stories he shared was about a firefighter preparing his front lawn for new seeds. He spent weeks bragging about how perfect it would be. A letter showed up at the engine house from UCLA (wink, wink) promoting new seeds for a lawn that required zero
Do you have any advice for future teachers?
“Treat you guys [referring to the students] well,” was Mr. Engel's only response.
Mr. Engel has blessed us with a fantastic 18 years here at HOS with his God-given teaching skills and fun,
Other students have put in many encouraging words about Mr. Engel. Fellow student, Alyssa
Mr. Engel has touched so many lives. We are sad to see him go, but we wish him the best on his next chapter in life.