First day of school, 20 years later
It's been a long time since Todd Sehnert attended the first day of classes, but the 43-year-old was wearing new school clothes yesterday in Mancos.
A first-year teacher, Sehnert launched his career as an educator Tuesday at Mancos Middle School. He will serve as a mathematics teacher and coach of the boys' basketball team.
"I'm excited and a little nervous," he said. "It's going to be a learning experience for both me and the students."
After graduating from Fort Lewis College more than two decades ago with a mathematics and secondary education degree, Sehnert immediately went to work at the Lake Mancos Dude Ranch, a family-owned enterprise started by his father. He later opened Cortez K Lawn, a seasonal fertilizer and weed control business, which his wife still manages. He's even driven a propane truck.
"I thought teaching was something I'd enjoy doing," he said to explain his career change. "Plus, I finally get to put my college education to work."
To become a certified teacher, Sehnert enrolled in two six-week online courses, which he completed last year. A native and resident of Mancos, he only applied to teach in his hometown.
"I'm excited to be here and be directly involved with the community in a different sort of way," he explained. "I'm really looking forward to the opportunity."
On his first day of school, Sehnert said he would remain positive. He will also rely on the discipline his father, Lloyd, instilled in him as a child, to help ensure he uses the best classroom management techniques, he said.
"I don't want to teach to the kids," Sehnert said. "I want to help them learn."
Teaching some 85 seventh- and eighth-graders over five class periods, Sehnert said the only homework he assigned on the first day of classes was sending a letter home to be signed by parents informing them of his classroom procedures. Homework on the weekends is a definite possibility, he added.
Sehnert has been married for 21 years to his wife, Robin, and the couple has twin boys in the fourth grade and an older son in the seventh grade. Sehnert understands that he could soon become a father figure to some of his students, and he plans to draw on his own family experience.
"You have to be a good role model," he said. "I want to be someone the students can look up to and respect, and hopefully we can build lasting relationships that will impact their lives in the future."
Sehnert's last-minute preparations for his return to the schoolhouse included tweaking his lesson-plan format, arranging desk and chairs and learning to operate the school's new copier and printer.