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View From Vis: Meet English Teacher Mr. Dornbach

Mr. Steve Dornbach teaches Upper School English here at Vis and is featured in Visitation's virtual visit video. Let’s get to know him a little better!

1. How long have you been teaching here at Vis?

This is my third year teaching at Vis. The past two years I've been teaching 9th grade English. I started with one year in our Middle School teaching 6th grade English and 8th grade Geography! I have been a teacher for just over 30 years and have taught at Edina High School as well as at American international schools in Japan, Korea and Bulgaria!

2. What do you love most about teaching here?

I really love the sense of community that exists at Vis. It seems that since we are in an all-girls environment, students feel a bit more free and comfortable to take risks and be more of their authentic selves. But what I love most is that Vis attracts such kind, curious, engaged and just GOOD young people!  

3. What are some highlights of the English program at Vis?

I think some highlights are that we have a strong focus on female writers and main characters (protagonists!) in the titles we read. Every day, students are taught and given opportunities to look at literature through multiple perspectives, to find themselves in the stories and to develop and contribute their voices and ideas. We also help develop students who become skilled communicators through writing, speaking and sharing of ideas.   

4. What book (play, etc.) do you most enjoy teaching and why?

If it's literature (of any genre), I enjoy teaching it! But in 9th grade, we read a novel titled Copper Sun by Sharon Draper. The students have loved it as it gives them a chance to explore difficult topics and issues with empathy and grace. It's a mature read, but one that we all come away better for experiencing together! It's been an honor to be able to teach this book.

5. Lightning Round! What is your favorite...

Book you've read this past year?

It would have to be a tie between This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger and Virgil Wander by Leif Enger. Both are Minnesota authors and both write sweeping, local epics with unforgettable characters. 

Book of all time?
Impossible to just choose one! But I guess I'd have to say The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (I love everything about it!). I'd also throw in Where the Red Ferns Grows by Wilson Rawls (read in the 7th grade?!) and Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary...loved that series as a child!   

Activity to do in your free time?
Gardening! Plants, trees, grass, shrubs, vegetables--anything I can grow and take care of, I'm all in! My wife and I also recently purchased a small, Airstream trailer. We love to camp and plan to explore state and national parks as well as more remote areas of the United States!

TikTok video you've made?
Here's a TikTok I made this year of the 9th grade classes. We were celebrating the last day of September with the classic Earth, Wind and Fire song, "September."

Thank you to Mr. Dornbach for sharing his thoughts. He makes us #visproud!