Gudgell: How did you decide to pursue a career in teaching?
Mr. Austin: Really? Why don’t we talk about something more interesting?
Gudgell: Okay. Like what?
Mr. Austin: Like how many calories are in a penguin?
Gudgell: Well, do you know the answer to that?
Mr. Austin: I would guess a lot because sea lions wear quite thick fat coats.
Indeed, there is simply no way of knowing what will become of a conversation with our beloved teacher Mr. Austin. He constantly maintains his status as perhaps the most intriguing and mysterious staff member, never failing to surprise the students and stretch their brains to the limit. We love him for his wonderfully whimsical ways.
When asked about how he decided to get involved with the teaching profession, Austin replied that, at first, it was not deliberate. After earning a degree in creative writing, he spent many a day reading poetry between other acts in coffee shops, cafes, etc., and found himself getting to know the youth. Learning that some of them were somewhat illiterate, Austin found himself increasingly interested in helping children, especially with English. He assembled a portfolio of his work and took a job teaching at a community school in Fair Haven. One year, he worked at a summer program for impoverished tribal kids, and there discovered his passion for teaching. After this exciting realization, Austin went back to college to earn a teaching degree.
Mr. Austin, when prodded about his favorite part of teaching, joked, “three things actually: June, July, and August.” On a more serious note, though, he communicated his interest in the development of high school students, both academically, and as individuals. Austin said, “I enjoy working with creative young people taking incredible strides.” He then described how, in high school, students evolve into completely different people each year, growing from children to adults in an extremely short time.
Mr. Austin may be teacher of the month, but the students of Orcas Island High School admire and respect him throughout their high school careers. He comes to the rescue in academic challenges, teaches valuable life lessons, stretches us to (and sometimes beyond) our limits, and never fails to make us laugh. Oh, and he can also do a mean card trick. Keep on rockin’, Mr. Austin. On behalf of the students, thank you for all that you do.