For The Glory Of God A distinctive Christ-centered education

Faculty Spotlight: Mr. Vanek on Teaching Tenacity

Chuck Vanek, in his words, “went to school to become a teacher.” Drawn to the profession for its relational characteristics, Mr. Vanek became a teacher to have an impact on the lives of kids. This desire came through the friendship and mentorship of someone in his high school: a History teacher named Bill.

Two months into their friendship, Bill noticed that Mr. Vanek was struggling. At the time, Mr. Vanek had just moved out of his home – his mother passed away right before high school, leaving him living with his abusive stepfather. He moved in with his aunt, who was “very poor and very alcoholic.” Bill noticed Mr. Vanek’s struggles and so invited him over for meals and time together. “He made a stranger a huge part of his life on a teacher’s salary,” Mr. Vanek reflects. This radical hospitality and care set Mr. Vanek on the path to teaching, “to affect lives like Bill did.”

Mr. Vanek studied History at Baylor, paying his way by working as an Assistant Manager at HEB in the meat market. He then found out about Live Oak by connecting with student Sean Lambert (’11) at First Baptist Church. He first stepped foot into Live Oak in August of 2016 as a substitute teacher. Over the course of the school year, Mr. Vanek became the basketball coach, a full-time sub, then the Grammar PE teacher, which eventually led to teaching full time the following August.

Today, Mr. Vanek teaches 10th Grade History. He is drawn to the subject because “history teaches the story of us and how we got to where we are.” He also notes that historical figures, when taught correctly, equip students to learn virtues like tenacity and charity. Outside of the classroom, Coach V (as the students call him) can be found mentoring students on the baseball and football fields, and the basketball court.

When asked about his favorite part of his job, Mr. Vanek replied, “everything.” He loves seeing the impact that a school can have on kids, whether through learning about Teddy Roosevelt or by practicing free-throws. “It’s just a dream job.”

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