Teacher Profile: Mr Sanchez

Sophie Hayssen, Co-Online Editor

Mr. Sanchez was raised not far from Brooklyn, in Newark, New Jersey; when he was not concentrating on his studies Mr. Sanchez could be found dancing in his room to a wide range of music or going to New York City on the weekends to buy bootleg Nirvana CDs.

During his teenage years, Mr. Sanchez attended St. Benedict’s Preparatory, a Catholic school for boys.  He describes it as a very “special place” with nonstop energy—a place where incredibly tight bonds formed between teachers and students: “One of my best friends was my freshman English teacher. He had gone to Brown and encouraged me to check it out. Years later, he was at my graduation from Brown and was even the best man at my wedding.” Needless to say, as a young child, Mr. Sanchez felt the effects that a great teacher could have on a student and knew early on what it was like to be inspired. He was an enthusiastic learner from the start, even when he faced obstacles that required more of an academic push. His teachers recognized this determination and encouraged him to expand his mind by exposing him to different types of music and poetry.
Later on in his life, Mr. Sanchez found himself on the other end of the teacher-student paradigm when, a month after graduating Brown, he found himself back in the classrooms of St. Benedict’s—this time as a teacher. There he taught Algebra and Pre-Algebra for seven years, then English for another six. He elaborates on a two-way love for learning, as well as on watching students grow: “I love to see where students are coming from, what students are into as far as the books they like to read and the music they like to listen to, and the goals that they have, as well as their fears and insecurities. I love saying, ‘If you need help with this, I can help you out or I can point you in the direction of someone who can.’” Mr. Sanchez explains that “a good teacher is informed about the material, concerned about whether the students understand it, an advocate for the students’ learning outside the classroom, and a guide to developing a relationship with the material beyond just the time that they are in class.”

Mr. Sanchez left St. Benedict’s last year and is now halfway into his first year of teaching at Berkeley Carroll. Not only did he change jobs, but he left a place that had been a part of him for a large portion of his life. “I just needed a change,” he explains passionately. “I also don’t plan on living in the Northeast for the rest of my life, so I want to experience what it is like to be somewhere else and be in another environment that nurtures who I am as a teacher.”

In addition to being a teacher, Mr. Sanchez is a coach for Berkeley Carroll’s cross-country team. He was a nationally ranked runner in high school and continues to run today.  He is currently training for the Boston Marathon. For him, running is more than just a sport. It is a form of “meditation.” He also believes that it requires an approach distinct from that used in teaching: “As a teacher, you are always trying to get kids who aren’t as good at a certain subject to become better at it, whereas…running can be painful for some people and not for others so you can’t push athletes as much.”

One of Mr. Sanchez’s other passions is performance art. “Performance art is a medium of creative expression that infuses dance, collage, film, and the body to make a social, political, or psychological statement,” he explains. “So performance art is very different from painting or other art forms because, for me, it makes the audience engage with the performer, as it is meant to be a creative dialogue between the audience and the performer.” Performance art offers Mr. Sanchez the ability to experiment with the limitations of his body, as well as the chance to express himself. “I don’t like art that is just made to be there,” he comments. “Art has to make a statement, but it doesn’t necessarily have to have a meaning.” Providing an example, he refers to artist Robert Reimann, a painter who only paints in white: “I feel like there is a purpose to that. There is a statement.”

One inspiring experience was a run that he took through Newark. He noticed how quickly quiet suburbs could turn to the projects. This observation brought many questions into his mind and he turned to performance art to express them.

One cannot help but wonder how a single person can have the capacity to encompass so many varied passions. Mr. Sanchez believes that inspiration is the trick: “It’s about being inspired. Two days ago, I took my senior essay class out for pancakes and I was like, ‘You have to remember that being inspired is the best thing you can be.”