Teacher Feature: Justin Tegrotenhuis

Justin Tegrotenhuis is a remarkable social studies teacher who truly understands the importance of creating a positive and welcoming atmosphere in his classroom. As he aptly states, “In my opinion, the best way to create a positive environment in a classroom begins with creating a classroom setting where students feel comfortable.” He said he believes that the foundation of a happy learning environment starts with ensuring that students feel comfortable and respected. By fostering a sense of belonging, he sets the stage for meaningful interactions and productive learning experiences.

Moreover, Tegrotenhuis recognizes that forming positive relationships with his students is crucial to his effectiveness as an educator. He values the ability to relate to his students and make personal connections, understanding that this not only enhances the learning process but also builds trust and mutual respect. As he said, “I believe one of the most important qualities of a great teacher is the ability to relate to your students and form positive relationships.” His genuine care and empathy create a supportive environment where students feel valued and empowered to succeed.

Despite facing unprecedented challenges, such as teaching during the Covid-19 pandemic, Tegrotenhuis remained resilient and committed to his students’ education. Reflecting on this experience, he said, “Easily the greatest challenge I have had to face as a teacher is teaching during the Covid-19 pandemic.” He adapted his teaching methods and embraced innovative strategies to ensure continuity of learning, demonstrating his dedication and passion for teaching even in the face of adversity.

Lila Williams, one of Tegrotenhuis’s students, speaks highly of him, emphasizing his kindness and inclusivity. She appreciates how he goes out of his way to involve every student and make them feel like an integral part of the class. As she said, “He is kind and includes everyone. He also involves everyone and doesn’t pick between people.” Lila particularly enjoys the interactive activities in his class, where everyone’s perspectives are valued and encouraged. “When he does interactive activities and includes everyone in the conversation, you get to hear everyone’s perspective,” she said.

Furthermore, Williams said she admires Tegrotenhuis’s fairness and non-discriminatory approach to teaching. She notes that he treats everyone with respect and dignity, regardless of their background or differences. This inclusive mindset not only fosters a sense of unity among students but also promotes a culture of acceptance and diversity within the classroom. “Because he doesn’t discriminate based on anything,” she said.

Tegrotenhuis’s exceptional qualities as a teacher, including his focus on creating a positive environment, forming meaningful relationships, and his resilience in overcoming challenges, make him a beloved and influential figure in the lives of his students. Through his dedication to inclusive teaching practices and unwavering commitment to student success, Tegrotenhuis leaves a lasting impact that extends far beyond the walls of his classroom.

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