Mr. Vangorp is awesome


Illiana Valdez-Ortega

Mr.Vangorp with one of his students

Mr. Vangorp teaches a lot of different classes. He is currently teaching African American Studies and English 11 and has taught English 12 in the past. And he really enjoys teaching those classes. “The African American Studies class developed a curriculum,” he said. “I think it’s important that students learn about four hundred years of a race, a culture being oppressed, not having equality in terms of social, and political, and economic,”
Mr.VanGorp has been teaching at WHS for 19 years but has also been a professor at GRCC for twenty. For him, teaching can be scary sometimes. “If a teacher’s not able to connect with a student, that creates anxiety because I want to reach every student,” he said. “And if I feel I’m not doing that, that creates an anxiety in me,”
When asked what his favorite part about teaching is, he gave a very positive answer. “The relationships I build with students,” he replied. “That’s what I like about English 11. 12th graders are, for the most part, they’re ready, many of them have checked out. With the 11th graders, I still feel a real connection, there’s time, I feel like I can have a greater impact on them. Not that I can’t with 12th graders, only I remember when I was in 12th grade, you’re just waiting on graduation day, counting those days down,”
If Mr.Vangorp didn’t teach English, physical education would’ve been something else he taught. “I like sports and activities so much,” he commented. “I guess I look back as to what I liked in high school and I was really a math person. Like I was really good at math in high school and not so much English. But, I couldn’t fathom what it would be to teach math today because it’s just- how do you get creative with math? It’s just numbers. But at least with Phys. Ed., I think there’s both a physical and emotional connection that you can make with students, teaching them about different activities and sports,”
And very surprising, Mr.VanGorp didn’t always want to go into teaching. “I actually started out in a business major. I was really good in math, really good with numbers and it just never played out that way.” he stated. “I think I was a bit immature for that field at the time. Because accounting is something like- you can’t have mistakes there. Credits and debits, addition, subtraction. You’ve got to be extremely accurate when you go into a field like that. When I was taking some of those courses, specifically down at the University of Oklahoma, it was challenging,”
In fact, three people motivated him to go into teaching. “I have a few professors at Grand Valley who were strong influences with me wanting to go into teaching: Professor Dwille, Professor Castro, and Professor White,” he said. “They’re the three that really impacted me,”
When it comes to activities outside of the classroom, Mr.Vangorp enjoys spending time with his family, working out, going to concerts, and playing golf. And he is not picky when it comes to music. “I’ll go to anything,” he said. “I love the atmosphere of concerts. I’ve been going to concerts since I was in middle school. I like all types of music.I just recently got on board with country which I never thought I would,”
When asked if there was a dream travel spot, Mr.VanGorp gave a heartfelt answer. “I would say anywhere I’m at with my wife would be my dream travel spot,” he said.
And it turns out, he doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth. However, he does have a favorite kind of dessert. “I really like key lime pie,” he said. “I’m not a big dessert person. I don’t particularly like sweets.I would go with chips.I’m more of a salt person but I do like key lime pie so I would order that!”