Bernthal Switches to US History

Well known teacher, Mr. Bernthal  has taught Chemistry for seven years.

“ I was hired here at PMA originally to teach Latino and African American History to freshmen. I did that for 3 years (2009-2012),” said Mr. Bernthal.

He is now teaching US History to replace Mr. Claahsen.

“Mr. Wipachit asked me to fill the vacancy when Mr. Claahsen moved on. We had a good Chemistry teacher coming in (Ms. Karns) so I gladly said yes. I love both subjects: History and Chemistry,” said Bernthal.

Mr. Bernthal, who is currently teaching 10th grade US History and 12th grade Ethnic Studies also mentioned that he will miss teaching Chemistry.

“I love the moments in Chemistry when the ‘lightbulb’ goes on in the students. I call them, ‘moments of genius.’ That’s when I posed a problem to the class before explaining the concept and challenged the students to figure it out on their own based on prior learning. When students were able to do this, I believed they would remember that moment for a long time. That felt great,” said Mr. Bernthal

As said he enjoys both subjects, but Mr. Bernthal feels a connection towards US history.

“To me, my study of history has shaped some of the deepest parts of my identity. History has impacted where I’ve lived (Russia vs. suburbs vs city), my friendships (I have friends from India, Turkey, Mexico, and Liberia), my marriage (interracial marriage is challenging, fascinating, and tough), my parenting (choosing to both adopt and have biological children). History has given me tools to make sense of other people. In understanding other people, it’s easier to get along with them and to accomplish cool things. History has also helped me make sense of the world and my place in it. And ultimately, I see God at work through history, bringing about a loving redemption of mankind, even through some of the darkest episodes of humanity. A greater awareness of God’s character is the best gift I’ve received from History,” Said Mr. Bernthal.

In addition to hoping his students learn History, he wants them to learn more than facts.

“If there’s one lesson I want students to learn from my journey of teaching multiple subjects here at PMA is that it is VERY possible to love more than one subject. Students don’t have to identify as either math/science OR social studies/English. They can love all subjects since each subject forces a person to grow in a different way. For me, the subject I had the least appreciation for growing up was Foreign Language. I thought it was just a lot of memorization. But then I ended up in Russia at age 22 and was forced to learn the language for survival. Learning Russian turned out to be one of the most intellectually challenging and stimulating experiences I’ve ever had. So, again I say to PMA students, lean into every class you take and be shaped by the learning, regardless of the subject,” said Ms. Bernthal.