Student teacher spreads his wings

Reichenbach+reminisces+on+his+time+student+teaching+at+MTHS+with+Christopher+Ellinger.

© HAWKEYE Jake Reichenbach

Reichenbach reminisces on his time student teaching at MTHS with Christopher Ellinger.

By Ritika Khanal, Co-Editor-In-Chief

Two days before his student teaching tenure came to an end, Jake Reichenbach was on the floor, competing in a push-up contest with a student while his class looked on.

Early in the year, sophomore Arian Motaghedi challenged him to the contest, claiming that, if given the chance, he could do more push-ups than Reichenbach. Eventually, he accepted the challenge, and the two put on a show.

Sophomore Abby Parkhurst remembers being impressed with Reichenbach’s skill and the effortless way in which he handled himself during the contest.

“He did significantly more than his opponent and didn’t even show signs of fatigue,” she said. “Reichenbach showed absolutely no mercy and blew him out of the water. It was hilarious.”

Although Motaghedi may have lost the challenge, he said it was one of his absolute favorite moments with Reichenbach.

“My favorite memory with Reichenbach would definitely have to be the push-up competition,” he said.

The student teacher’s easy and fun personality has impressed both his colleagues and the students who worked with him. His ability to connect with those around him, mixed with his passion for teaching, created a classroom culture that made his students look forward to their time with him every day, no matter what was going on.

“I feel like there was no other teacher that shared such a great relationship with each individual student,” Motaghedi said. “I could talk to him about anything, and it felt like he looked at us as friends rather than just his students.”

While Reichenbach has always gotten along with those around him, something he attributes to his amazing parents, it took him a while to figure out he wanted to be a teacher. Growing up an only child in the small town of Nisswa, Minn., Reichenbach had a childhood dream: creating new flavors of fruit roll-ups.

“I have a cousin who worked at General Mills, and while I was growing up he helped create new flavors of fruit roll-ups, so that was pretty much the dream as a kid,” he said.

With this dream in mind, Reichenbach attended community college while working as a waterski instructor at a summer resort. Although he didn’t know it at the time, he would often think back fondly of his days of instructing, eventually realizing that he wanted to teach kids for a living.

Throughout his time instructing at the summer resort, Reichenbach came up with ten life rules and reminders to live by, which he then posted on a whiteboard in his office.

His ten rules:

  1. “Don’t be a d**k.”
  2. “Life is about trade-offs.”
  3. “No shoes in the boat,” in reference to the fact that no shoes were allowed on the boat while water skiing; this rule was later amended to say “do the things you love and love will find you.”
  4. “Stay hydrated.”
  5. “It’s all mental.”
  6. “Play it cool.”
  7. “Use your head.”
  8. “You can’t help those who can’t help themselves.”
  9. “Never doubt your ability.”
  10. “Take care of yourself.”

While Reichenbach had figured out basic life rules to live by, the question still lingered; What was he going to do with his life?

As he looked into food sciences, he quickly decided this career path wasn’t for him. So, inspired by family and friends who had previously served, Reichenbach decided to join the navy, hoping that time away would help him figure out what he wanted to do with his life. The promise of better food and a small crew size led him to choose to work on a submarine.

After a year of submarine school in Connecticut, he was stationed on the USS Louisiana out of Bangor, Wa.

Reichenbach served in the navy for five years, working long and grueling hours, secluded from family and friends for months and years at a time. As a fire control technician, he was tasked with working with the sonar equipment group to track other ships in the event that his crew needed to shoot, and also to ensure the safety of the crew. He also served as one of the leading members of the open ocean transfer party, which required him to get crew members and supplies on and off the ship without pulling into port.

Although the work was hard, and time away from friends and family was emotionally taxing, Reichenbach’s experience with the navy strengthened an already strong work ethic and exposed him to people of all backgrounds.

“Living in my small town of 2,000 people, there was not a lot of diversity or differing ideas. Moving to Washington and working so closely and in such literal confinement for months on end with people of every single background you can imagine really widened my view of everything I had known,” he said.

After five years with the navy, Reichenbach knew he wanted to stay in Washington, and he was beginning to think he wanted to pursue a career in teaching.

“Looking back on different jobs I had growing up in instructing and teaching, I really landed on this passion for helping kids,” he said. “People just go from not understanding something to having that aha moment, or just finally connecting with material.”

With this new plan in mind, the college adventure began again. Already fond of the city of Bellingham, Reichenbach went through the teaching program at Western Washington University. Then, deciding he wanted his master’s degree in teaching, he applied to the graduate program at the University of Washington (UW) and got in, ultimately leading him to student teaching under Christopher Ellinger at MTHS.

Throughout his time as a student teacher, Reichenbach gained many fans. All of his students and colleagues, impressed with his work ethic and fun personality, were sad to see him leave when he graduated from the UW graduate program on March 18, 2022.

However, according to his students and Ellinger alike, his incredible work ethic and natural ability to connect with those around him will make him successful wherever he goes.

“I know that he will become a very good teacher in the future, not only because of his compassion towards those around him, but also because of his infectious positive attitude and the effort that he puts into doing the best he can for his students,” sophomore Emslie Kenall said.

Ellinger agreed.

“He is one of the hardest workers you will ever meet: on time, always prepared, always ready to acknowledge what he doesn’t know and willing to fix it,” he said.

Reichenbach found his time with Ellinger to be a fun experience, too.

“We have clicked on every level since day one, and it has truly been a pleasure to work with and alongside the staff member of the month,” he said.

Ellinger, who was recognized for his hard work by being named staff member of the month in February, obtained the nickname from Reichenbach, who was determined to never let him forget it. Under Ellinger’s mentorship, Reichenbach feels that he has learned many important lessons that he will take with him as he begins teaching at the Lummi Nation School in Bellingham.

Meanwhile, he has already made an impact on MTHS students.

“He’s genuinely the best teacher anyone could really ask for. I can’t thank him enough for the things he’s taught me and how he’s made me a better person,” Motaghedi said.