Department Spotlight

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The Social Science department at Wesleyan influences students in various ways, including in the classroom or through extra-curricular activities. Every social science teacher shared their sweet or sour moments while teaching.

Dennis Stromie

  1. What Social Science class do you teach?  I teach one U.S. History class with sophomores. I also teach two Government classes with juniors and seniors.
  2. How long have you been working at Wesleyan? This is my 8th year here, but I’ve been teaching high school for 36 years total.
  3. What made you want to be a Social Science teacher? I started out in criminal justice but switched to education. I love history and I love working with young people.
  4. What is your favorite in-class memory?  My favorite in class memory was when I worked at Parkview many years ago and we hung a parachute in our “double classroom” during our WWII unit of study. We did some crazy things during those days and it was a ton of fun. I had a blast seeing how much fun teaching & learning could be.
  5. What is your favorite Wesleyan memory? When I went on the mission trip to Ukraine and worked with young children in an orphanage. It was a very humbling experience and it made all of us realize how good we have had it in our life.
  6. Most embarrassing moment at Wesleyan? I have not had that moment yet, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.

Ted Russell

  1. What Social Science class do you teach? Freshmen Honors World History
  2. How long have you been working at Wesleyan? 18 years
  3. What made you want to be a Social Science teacher? I had some great history teachers in high school who taught the class like they were telling a great story and made it relevant to me.  I wanted to be able to do the same thing for my students.
  4. What is your favorite in-class memory? So many good memories with the students here but I would say the two favorite ones are the WWII Simulation game, where the students get a chance to either stop WWII from happening or make history repeat itself. As well as the A & E Job Fair project, where the students dress up as historical figures and interview with each other for modern jobs.
  5. What is your favorite Wesleyan memory? – When I was the High School Dean, Mr. Casey, Mr. Plunk, Mr. Lisson and I surprised the student body by giving the second half of the day off from classes.  The celebration by the students when they realized we were not kidding was awesome.
  6. Most embarrassing moment at Wesleyan? My first day at Wesleyan, I got locked in the closet in my office.  The building was new, and the doorknob had been put on backwards.  I went into the closet to put some items in storage, the door closed behind me and since it was on backwards, I could not get out.  I waited for 45 minutes until Mr. Turner walked by my office and heard me knocking on the door.

Mary Stephenson

  1. What Social Science class do you teach? U.S. Government.
  2. How long have you been working at Wesleyan? 10 years.
  3. What made you want to be a Social Science teacher? I always loved the history classes I had in high school. I also had some great teachers who made the material come to life. I just always felt like it would be so fun, and it is.
  4. What is your favorite in-class memory? I think it’s different every year, but in general when a student works hard and achieves more than they thought they were capable of, or when a student gets really excited about the material and it influences their college or career plans, that’s pretty cool.
  5. What is your favorite Wesleyan memory? I have so many. But definitely winning state in softball the past two seasons has been pretty awesome. As a student, definitely all the time I spent hanging out with Mrs. Lloyd and learning from her. She’s very wise and sort of funny.
  6. Most embarrassing moment at Wesleyan? I said a bad word in class accidentally. I was teaching 6th grade English and we were reading a book that took place on a ship. You can guess what word I said accidentally. I just pretended it didn’t happen.

Knoxie Roche

  1. What Social Science class do you teach? 9th grade World History and AP European History.
  2. How long have you been working at Wesleyan? 5 years back in 1999 to 2004 then 2014 to 2019 so a total of 10 years.
  3. What made you want to be a history teacher? I had an incredible 10th grade history teacher, and I enjoyed listening to her. It was like she was telling a big story, and she was so enjoyable to listen to, so she just inspired me.
  4. What is your favorite in-class memory? I taught these two sets of twins and they were on different sides of Louis the 16th trial and it was hilarious on how both sets of twins just bantered back and forth and at the end they were not trying Louis the 16th, they ended up trying each other.
  5. What is your favorite Wesleyan memory? When I was the tennis coach, it was such a great year, 2002. We went to the state championship, we didn’t win, but it was just so much fun spending time together and bonding in Macon.
  6. Most embarrassing moment at Wesleyan? I would have to say on this past year’s Freshman Retreat. The teachers had to improvise a skit to music and elaborate Mr. Zimmerman’s death, which was super fun, but so embarrassing (picture inserted). Also, on the Freshman Retreat when I had to do a belly flop. Not my best moment.

Chris Yoder

  1. What Social Science class do you teach? AP Government.
  2. How long have you been working at Wesleyan? 12 years.
  3. What made you want to be a Social Science teacher? This is going to sound strange, but it mostly started with 9/11. That day shook me. It led me on a journey to search for answers and initiated a lot of personal self-discovery. The end result was a clear calling to teaching and coaching.
  4. What is your favorite in-class memory? Well, I once shared a classroom with Mr. Cole. Where do I begin?
  5. What is your favorite Wesleyan memory? So many fond memories… The Cross-Country team alone has provided me with too many to count. When you are all in and dig deep you close the gap and take it to the next level.
  6. Most embarrassing moment at Wesleyan? The time all of my office furniture was removed and placed in the hallway in the exact same arrangement. Thanks class of 2011.

Chris Cleveland

  1. What Social Science class do you teach? History of World War II.
  2. How long have you been working at Wesleyan? 17 years.
  3. What made you want to be a Social Science teacher? I’ve always enjoyed reading about and learning history, so when I decided to be a teacher, it was easy to choose to teach something that I love.
  4. What is your favorite in-class memory? In my first year at Wesleyan, I taught 7th grade history. We were studying World War II, and it was just one of those days where I was not connecting with my students at all. So, to change the dynamic of the classroom, we took a short break, went outside, and played touch football on the quad. While we were playing, we started talking about World War II. Now my students were engaged. So, before every play, we had to learn a new fact about World War II. For the next 5+ years those students would remind me of facts that they learned and remembered from that day of class. It was a good reminder to me that a classroom is not defined by walls, but by where teaching and learning take place.
  5. What is your favorite Wesleyan memory? That is impossible to answer. There are entirely too many great memories and to narrow it down to one would be difficult. If I had to name just one, I would say that the day the entire community showed up to honor Mr. Young was an incredible experience to watch.
  6. Most embarrassing moment at Wesleyan? Young came to me and asked me to say Psalm 24 in Chapel because he was going to be absent. I had been at Wesleyan for several years at that point and could easily recite Psalm 24. But, saying it in the audience in Austin Chapel and leading it in the missions commissioning chapel, in Yancey Gym, in front of the entire school was a different story. I got way too far inside my own head and was practicing something I already knew all week leading up to the commissioning chapel service. This was back at a time when we used to say the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of chapel, followed by Psalm 24. So the day arrives. I walk up on the stage nervous reciting Psalm 24 in my head over and over again. I step up to the microphone, determined to give it everything I’ve got, and sure enough, I mess up the Pledge of Allegiance, but I nailed Psalm 24.

 Brian Krehmeyer

  1. What Social Science class do you teach? I teach sophomores in United States History.
  2. How long have you been working at Wesleyan? I started at Wesleyan in fall of 2005.  I started teaching in fall of 1996.  So, I this is my 13th year at Wesleyan and 22nd in education.
  3. What made you want to be a Social Science teacher? I love being around people.  I love building relationships with others.  I admire the impact my teachers and coaches had on my, and I want to do the same for others.  I enjoy learning about, thinking about, and talking about history and realizing how historic events impact current events.
  4. What is your favorite in-class memory?  My favorite memories are what happens after class–the one-on-one moments with my students where they realize they possess the ability to overcome challenges or can find understanding where there was confusion.
  5. What is your favorite Wesleyan memory? Some of my most cherished memories at Wesleyan have taken place on the coaching field.  I was an assistant coach during the football team’s 2008 state championship, and I have been a part of four baseball state championships, but some of my favorite moments have also come with the teams that have not won championships, too.  The long playoff runs, and championship seasons merely allowed us to lengthen our season together. I am also grateful to Wesleyan because my twin boys are “Wesleyan babies.”  I arrived at Wesleyan in the fall of 2005 and my boys were born in the spring of 2006.  This community wrapped love and support around those boys and Susannah and me–having only been on campus one year at the time.
  1. Most embarrassing moment at Wesleyan? I do not really allow myself to be put in embarrassing positions.

Joseph Koch

  1. What Social Science class do you teach? I chair the AP Capstone Department now and teach AP Research to amazing seniors. I have also taught AP Capstone Seminar, U.S. History, and Modern World history classes for the department in the past.
  2. How long have you been working at Wesleyan? I have been at Wesleyan since 2013, so around five years.
  3. What made you want to be a Social Science teacher? I was blessed with great teachers, especially history teachers, throughout my entire life. I enjoy reading, especially non-fiction history pieces, biographies, and historical art object abstracts, so teaching history is really more like having a great opportunity to share a passion I have in learning.
  4. What is your favorite in-class memory? There are too many to count or explain. What I enjoy the most is seeing a student exceed their own expectations of success in my classroom knowing that I played a small role helping them realize they could accomplish more with direction, focus, and hard work.
  5. What is your favorite Wesleyan memory? The first day I drove my two boys, Lawson to Wiley, to school together.
  6. Most embarrassing moment at Wesleyan? Not so much for me, but I remember in my second year here a parent who was also a faculty member in the lower school at the time called me another teacher’s name for virtually the entire year. I enjoy practical jokes to begin with, so I kept it going until one day the teacher/parent finally realized I was not this other person.

Franklin Pridgen

  1. What Social Science class do you teach? Standard Econ and AP Economics.
  2. How long have you been working at Wesleyan?  I think this is my 19th or 20th Long time.
  3. What made you want to be a Social Science teacher? I’ve taught nearly everything in the department because I love the story of great people and important moments.
  4. What is your favorite in-class memory?  Once after a back injury many years ago I fell asleep in the middle of class because the pain meds prescribed by my doctor made me so drowsy.  Would not have been a big deal except that I was teaching at the time and my department chair had stopped by unexpectedly to observe my lesson.  Oops.
  5. What is your favorite Wesleyan memory? Winning the 2008 Class state championship in football.
  6. Most embarrassing moment at Wesleyan? The time I dressed up as Elmo for a homecoming skit. Big mistake.

Ari Young

  1. What Social Science class do you teach? I teach Economics and World History.
  2. How long have you been working at Wesleyan? I have been teaching here at Wesleyan for almost 7 months now.
  3. What made you want to be a Social Science teacher? It was not my first career choice and I would have never imagined I would become a teacher, but I have always loved history and politics and it became inevitable as it was always a hobby to read and study the subject.
  4. What is your favorite in-class memory? I have so many great memories, but my favorite is probably when I was told by the parent of a former student how much that student loved and raved about my class when I had been under the impression the student did not care much for me.
  5. What is your favorite Wesleyan memory? I have been so very impressed by how kind, polite and respectful so many of my students have been. It’s a breath of fresh air.
  6. Most embarrassing moment at Wesleyan? I have not been here that long and if you have not heard about an embarrassing moment, I’m certainly not going to advertise one.

Kevin Kadzis

  1. What Social Science class do you teach? AP U.S. History.
  2. How long have you been working at Wesleyan? 8 years.
  3. What made you want to be a Social Science teacher? My passion for the subject and putting students in a position to think critically about past events and how these events have an impact on contemporary society.
  4. What is your favorite in-class memory? Playing wiffle ball and kickball after the AP exam.
  5. What is your favorite Wesleyan memory? Seeing students after they crush the AP exam with a great score.
  6. Most embarrassing moment at Wesleyan? When my youngest daughter, who was about one at the time threw up in front of the entire school during a Monday meeting on the Powell Theater stage.

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