"Learning is finding out that you already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you. You are all learners, doers, and teachers." --Richard Bach
Michael Wagner, Teacher, Traveler, Mentor
After surviving his stint as a high school social studies teacher in New York City, Michael Wagner often contemplated life beyond the lesson plans, bells and the continuous whir of 21st century high school life. After five straight years of teaching right out of college, feelings of pointlessness, hopelessness, and pessimism about the future of education set in.
Mike needed some air, some distance and hoped to gain fresh perspective during an unusual gap year at the age of 26.His life was packed in two bags and a crate (for his German Shepherd) and moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for a little culture shock and volunteer work. After about a year of traveling, he came back home reinvigorated and felt ready to tackle the challenges of teaching in the modern era. After another two years of teaching, he realized that it was the deep connection with his students that he missed, not the fluorescent-lit four-walled enclosure and spouting predetermined facts for students’ “education”. The same problems persisted.
Dissatisfied once again, he left the teaching world with tearful hugs and bittersweet goodbyes, anxious about an uncertain future. Driven to find happiness and battling self-doubt, he read voraciously and constantly pondered his next job. All the while, he continued to advise former students on deep, life issues and help train them to think in a more positive and productive way.
That is when it all clicked. Mike realized his talent for mentoring wayward students who were unsure of their life trajectory or confused by society’s mixed messages. These were students who questioned, “why they have to learn this stuff”, and were seeking help in understanding how and why they learn. Students who felt overwhelmed by the rat race of high school and who desired to learn deeper truths about life, yet the curriculum was too restrictive. Students who were looking for a spark of inspiration in the dull drudgery that so often defines our high schools.
As a millennial himself, Mike identifies with the generation and understands their strengths and weaknesses and how they relate to the world. He now seeks to help usher his students into rewarding and fulfilling careers and carving futures that fit in with their ideals, lifestyles and desires within the complex economic framework of 2017.