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Teaching History, Collecting Blood and Funds, and A Father’s Love

posted Dec 5, 2013, 4:31 AM by Unknown user

Jessica Cunningham


Mr. Mark Vennekotter teaches American History, Psychology, Current Events, and History Through Film, and used to teach geography. A graduate of Defiance College—with a full-ride scholarship—Mr. Vennekotter is in charge of multiple events around the high school.


He heads National Honor Society, or NHS, which plays host to multiple community-oriented events like the annual blood drive and Relay for Life. He also hosts JSA every Thursday, where any junior or senior is welcome to show up and debate freely on a multitude of topics, during their lunch period.



Besides his school responsibilities, Mr. Vennekotter partakes in a serious wood-working hobby and spends time with his family, namely the newest member, his son Jack.


National Honor Society hosts a blood drive twice during the school year, sponsored by the Red Cross. The event has impacted people locally with, according to Vennekotter, “the average amount of blood donated each year totalling up to roughly 100 units.”  


Because every blood unit can alter at least three lives, the amount of blood donated per year affects around 300 people. Additionally, in the spring, NHS hosts the Relay for Life. In the past 5 years, approximately $26,000 have been raised for cancer research, according to Vennekotter. “The best part of being responsible for NHS is the community service,” says Mr. Vennekotter, “seeing all the kids give is very rewarding.”   

Mr. Vennekotter is currently on his ninth year teaching at Van Buren. Van Buren’s uniquity he sees marked by its “number of opportunities that are provided for such a small school,” describing also the amount of participation in said activities as “impressive.” As for teaching in general, Vennekotter said, “the appreciation from past students; the appreciation they have for my teaching and how I treated them while they were here,” to be the most satisfying part. Students will sometimes mention what is discussed in class at home, making his teaching “an active part of their lives.”   

As for what advice he learned through his own time in high school, unfortunately marred by his father’s death, Mr. Vennekotter stated he learned that, “many things aren’t as important as adolescents think them to be.” Losing his father “put things in perspective” and taught him “to never take anything for granted, focus on what’s important, and not get caught up in trivial things.” When it comes to advice for the students he teaches now in high school, his best advice is, “when making big decisions, think about how it will affect your future, not just the here and now.”   


Most interesting JSA or class debate topics? Recently, in JSA, students got really fired up about drug legalization and chivalry in dating.


Describe your teaching style in one word: Awesome (with a laugh) personal.


What’s the most important piece of advice you’ve ever received? Do what you enjoy, life’s short.


What’s the most rewarding part of parenting so far? That’s hard to describe in words. The overwhelming sense of joy and responsibility, knowing that and feeling that somebody’s life is more important than your own, that you’d jump in front of a train for them.


Favorite food? Stromboli. My wife makes delicious stromboli.


Favorite movie? I would have to say The Shawshank Redemption.

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