Sunday, September 28, 2008

Matthew Ketterer

Matthew Ketterer

I first met Matt when I was a freshman in college at SUNY Geneseo. He was living in Geneseo, volunteering with the cross country and track teams and completing his Masters Degree in History at SUNY Brockport. We got to know each other through a few mutual friends and we all have subsequently stayed close to this day. We even went as far as creating our own pseudo organization, Team Spirit, which was founded on a shared set of common beliefs and enthusiasm for life’s adventures.

Matt is a unique individual who I admire whole-heartedly. He possesses a tremendous sense of humor and a wit which often blows my mind with obscure historical references and spot on social observations. A life long athlete and history buff, Matt currently teaches Global Studies and European Civilization at Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, New York. Entering his third year in the district, Matt’s intelligence, passion for the subject material, and teaching style has enabled his students to excel.

It is an honor and a pleasure to feature a few of his thoughts this week. ~Joseph

What is your definition of success?

MK: I was going to try to come up with something of my own for this question, but then I remembered the Winston Churchill poster hanging in my classroom. Churchill said, “Success is the ability to move from one failure to another with no loss in motivation.” What better way to define success than to be able to turn failure into it?

Who inspires you? Why?

MK: Me. I inspire myself. If you need to look to outside sources for inspiration than you have already lost whatever it is that you are doing. Everyday is an opportunity for me to do better than I did the day before and I don’t need other people to tell me that or inspire me to that. People should develop an intrinsic motivation for what they do rather than looking to others to provide them with it.

What do you consider your strengths? Weaknesses?

MK: What is this a job interview? If it is I suppose I will do the old turn my weakness into my strength tact and say my sense of humor. I am able to laugh at most things and have a tendency to joke around to fill dead air. Unfortunately, the students sometimes interpret my willingness to joke around as a sign that they do not need to take the material as seriously as they should.

Why are you a teacher?

MK: Why do people like sleeping? Some things are just the way they are.

What are some things you try to bring to the classroom to provide a more enhanced learning experience for your students?

MK: Since I teach Global Studies and European Civilization there isn’t as much time in class to look at the current election as I would like or they would like for that matter. But I have attempted to integrate it into my lessons still by having the students evaluate the candidates from the perspective of the people we are studying. For instance, during the Enlightenment unit last year they researched a primary candidate of their choice and had to determine how “enlightened” that person was. Some, needless to say, turned out to be more enlightened than others.

What are some short term and mid term goals for you?

MK: Short term: Remember to brush my teeth in the morning.

Mid term: Develop an indoor track program that our students take seriously. Right now our indoor team is struggling so the good distance runners actually use winter to swim instead. I want to help change that and provide them with an attractive opportunity to run and compete all year. Getting tenured is another goal.

Being a history buff, who are three people from any time period that you would like to meet?

MK: Cleopatra, Nietzsche, and Aaron Burr; at least two of them for the conversation.

What are some books that have made a lasting impression on you?

MK: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek, and I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max. All are great books and I would encourage everyone to read them, even if you disagree with them/especially if you disagree with them. It’s always a good thing to know what the other side is thinking and you might just learn something about yourself along the way. Rand and Hayek are particularly important for anyone who plans on voting or taking part in society. Max, well you should just read it and then do your best to live a TS lifestyle.

Final thoughts?

MK: There is no way for me to come up with a final thought without sounding cliché so I am going to just have to end it here.

Matt Ketterer

Social Studies Teacher

Horace Greeley High School