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Teacher Feature: Mr.Zorn

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Mr.Zorn

Mr. Zorn is a chemistry student teacher at Oswego High School. While he is not employed by OHS, he undoubtedly has one of the most intriguing pasts of any adult who teaches here. Before coming to OHS, he had been in the Air Force and a martial arts instructor.

“[Martial Arts] wasn’t my original life plan, but things work out funny, as you’ll find out,” Zorn says. He originally wanted to become an astronaut through the Air Force. But these plans were shattered when he got a medical discharge during his time at the Air Force Academy.

The Air Force does teach a person life skills that are useful in all of life’s possible aspirations, including becoming a teacher. After his discharge, Mr. Zorn would go on to use these skills in his future professions.

“Everybody in the military, whether you want to or not, has to be a leader at some point,” Zorn reveals. “I feel like a lot of that leadership experience I pulled out of the military translated very well into martial arts, and then, into teaching.”

After being medically discharged, he wouldn’t be able to accomplish his ambitions of becoming an astronaut. So, Mr. Zorn had to figure out something to do, and went back to what he was familiar with.

“I had been doing Taekwondo when I was a teenager and I kept up with it,” Zorn says. “I really liked it, and at that point in my military career I had gotten to be kind of a leader and enjoyed working with others, so why don’t I try teaching Taekwondo?”  

He opened up a Taekwondo place with a friend, where many students here at OHS have been to. Mr. Zorn couldn’t have landed a high school for his student teaching with more familiar students.

But he had always had an interest in science, so after being a martial arts instructor for a number of years, he decided to pursue that interest. While he is a chemistry student teacher, he makes it very clear he “did not choose chemistry, chemistry chose [him].”

“Physics has always been a big thing for me, so I always had a love for science,” Zorn outlines. “But then when it came time to student teach, they just kind of give you a subject, so chemistry is the one they gave me.”

This was a huge shock for Mr. Zorn, who had been “caught off guard a little bit,” because he had “only taken two chemistry classes at that point.”

Regarding going to college as an adult and being older than most other students, Zorn has a few remarks.

“It’s a little embarrassing, honestly. Most of my friends got college degrees at 22, and I’m 35, and I just got my first degree,” he confesses. “It was a little weird going back to school with kids that are 10, 15 years younger than me – but it’s very humbling.”

Mr. Zorn has held three distinct professions. From an airman, to a martial arts instructor, and finally to student teaching for chemistry. Teachers often go to college with the sole purpose of eventually going into that profession, but Mr. Zorn has meandered his way through life to experience many more of his various aspirations than the average teacher.

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