English Faculty Interviews: “What Inspired you to teach?”

As faculty in the English Department, Mr. Vanderberg (above) and Mr. Salecker (below) go to extraordinary lengths to help their students learn.

Interview Conducted by Christopher Mendoza Ali ‘24

​​Mr. Peter Vanderberg 

“As a freshman in college I changed my major to English and, as I got further and further into the coursework, it became more interesting. I always loved reading, but now I really started to love reading, writing, and talking about it, and I just fell in love with that whole environment and thought I might want to pursue teaching. 

I served in the military for four years and, during that time, I knew. In the second half of my four years in the Navy, I started to think ‘What do I want to do after the Navy?’ I realized I wanted to be a teacher. I was still reading and I had begun writing on my own. It was probably somewhere in the South Pacific on a ship where I realized that I definitely wanted to become a teacher.”

Mr. Andrew Salecker ‘12 

“When I was a student at Chaminade, I was a member of the Parish Religious Education Program (PREP). Teaching weekly religious education to the kids at St. Thomas the Apostle really inspired me to pursue a degree in education when I got to college. 

I was also fortunate to have had really excellent English teachers here at Chaminade, some of whom I even get to call my colleagues now. 

Choosing to become an English teacher was really a no-brainer for me. I had always enjoyed reading and writing when I was a student. I was also drawn to the fact that you can always do something new in an English class—read a new book, respond to a new writing prompt, or try out a new discussion strategy. I knew I’d always be able to keep things fresh and exciting, for both my students and myself.”

Ms. Heidi Hafner

“Originally I was planning on going into a career involving biology; but, during my junior year at Kellenberg Memorial High School, my English teacher Mrs. von Schonenermarck asked if I had ever considered teaching English. I said no and, sure enough, here I am many years later. She was probably the biggest inspiration for me. I came to love literature and the life lessons that come along with it. 

There’s something called the ‘Universality of Literature’: any good piece of literature has a lesson or theme that transcends space and time. 

I became very attracted to that idea and decided I want to share my love of that with anyone who would listen.”