Luke Hladek

Luke Hladek

Luke Hladek

Assistant Head of School for Culture and Advancement

What adjectives would you use to describe your presence in the classroom?

Oh boy. What are all the ways I can say ‘talkative’? I looked back at my old report cards somewhat recently and noticed quite a theme with the words ‘messy, kind, and talkative’ on nearly every page from about 1st-6th grades. I guess not much has changed…

If you weren’t teaching, what career would you have chosen?

Something with a microphone. For years I wanted to be a radio DJ and now you’ll find me speaking into a mic any chance I get. It’s a great thing about WCDS, though, that those passions that might be considered missed opportunities, even regrets, in other lives are embraced and encouraged to be mixed into our jobs here.

‘You wanted to sing? Let’s get you on stage.’
‘You wanted to paint? Celebrate is coming up!’
‘You love space? Go chase an eclipse and report on it live from the beach.’
‘You do a savant-like impression of Mickey Mouse? The talent show is accepting staff submissions this year!’

What a place.

What impact or legacy do you hope to leave to your students?

I’m self-aware enough to know that most of my students will only remember me in glimpses and plenty of others will confuse me with stories about Joe Jividen or IJ Kalcum. But…

I want them to be like, ‘yeah he got off topic a lot and was plenty of times a pushover, he forgot stuff and got frustrated and taught differently (some might say worse) than most of my other ones and one time he fell in the mud because he really wanted to score a touchdown at recess. But he also saw the best in me and said it and wrote it and made sure I knew what he thought I could be.’

That’d be sweet.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement as a teacher so far?

You know, it’s going to sound corny, but learning how much kids have to offer has changed my life. I don’t talk over their heads anymore. Sometimes I do, ok? Sue me. But mostly, I look at them and speak to them. I ask them things and listen to what they have to say and involve them in the conversation, no matter their age. It’s made me a better father and helped me see more in people in general. We’re all pretty much just kids trying to figure out what’s going on.

That and I launch a weather balloon every year and man that’s been amazing.

What are some of the most important life skills you hope to instill in your students?

Honestly I just want them to see that their ideas and their thoughts are valid, even the bad ones. Because boy are there plenty of bad ideas. But even the worst ones can lead to the best.

I also hope they can avoid being so sure of everything. That they hold onto that childhood wonder and curiosity for as long as possible and do it without fear or insecurity. That they can carry that mindset into adulthood and forgive each other for being their true, ever-changing, ever-inconsistent selves.

Simple stuff.