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Why is Mr. Lonnemann So Chill?

Derrick Kwan | dkwan19@dtechhs.org | June 1, 2018

Photo by Derrick Kwan

Henry Lonnemann, Dean of Student Culture and government teacher, has a laid back personality. Many of his students, and his friends in the staff have described him as “chill”, “cynical”, and “hilarious”. His mentality today is largely due to his previous teaching experience.

When it comes to Lonnemann’s teaching style, it isn’t strict. Junior Portia Kwan has Lonnemann for government, and notes that  “he grades harshly” but also “has a very relaxed personality”. Junior Alexander White recently had to interview Lonnemann for a newspaper article on bullying. Although Lonnemann had his class starting in one minute, he was absolutely willing to go through the interview, even though it took five minutes. He wasn’t in a rush, because seemingly he wanted to accommodate White.

When it comes to his place at d.tech, Lonnemann says, “I really do appreciate the no AP, no fast-track, grind-it-out-until-you-freak-out mentality that most high schools have.” Instead, he values the freedom that students possess that allows them to find something to occupy their time in a more interesting manner. Lonnemann says he likes “the idea of: Find a passion and pursue it”.

Outside of school, Lonnemann is a rebellious person by nature. Junior and senior English teacher, Lessley Anderson says, “He is one of my favorite people to hang out with outside of school. He actually makes time for his social life, which is rare for people our age.” When Anderson and Lonnemann first joined d.tech, they were required to take a design thinking course at Stanford’s d.lab. During the workshop, they bonded over their shared cynical humor. “When we were told to make cheesy bracelets to remember our time there by, we ended up drawing a bunch of comics in Sharpie on a banana,” says Anderson. “It was hilarious.” In a recent interview, Lonnemann said that, “Math, English, and Science are useless,” but may have been saying it for affect. He elaborated that instead of traditional classes, he wants students to go out and apply learning experiences to the outside world. Lonnemann said, “I want to get out of this building more, be in the woods, on a construction site, where you’re doing real things. You really don’t learn anything until you experience it.”

Lonnemann values how mellow d.tech is in some ways. When asked how d.tech compares to his past experience working at a local high school, Lonnemann replied, “I love my job so much, especially compared to my old job…It’s less stressful here.” As Dean of Student Culture, Lonnemann handles behavior problems that come up.  He admits that there are issues here at d.tech, such as students breaking microwaves, but they are more minor than those at his previous school, which faced issues of gangs and bullying. Lonnemann says he feels a sense of urgency to deal with behavioral issues in a humane way and doesn’t want to give a harsh punishment right off the bat. He says he feels a better approach is to reform them through subtle influence. Anderson said that she had “once seen him before school, by himself, writing on a filled up whiteboard with a giant flowchart” mapping out ideas on how to discipline students more effectively. One point from the chart that stood out to her was “gardening” as a potential substitute for punishment.  

So, watch out. If you get caught breaking a rule make sure that you are prepared to start gardening at d.tech.

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