New social studies teacher Jeffrey Dick will bring his great interest in World War II, Theodore Roosevelt and pumping tunes before Friday classes to students at Fillmore Central.  ANTON ADAMEK/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPERS
New social studies teacher Jeffrey Dick will bring his great interest in World War II, Theodore Roosevelt and pumping tunes before Friday classes to students at Fillmore Central. ANTON ADAMEK/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPERS
"It's important for them to know what is going on in the world. If they don't, they won't know how to take the country forward," explained Jeffrey Dick, a new social studies teacher for Fillmore Central High School.

For Dick, teaching students how to become productive and active citizens is just as important as understanding math and science. To do that, he is looking forward to getting lots of class participation and students critically thinking about what their role as citizens are.

Dick grew up and graduated from high school in St. Charles. He began studying biology at Winona State University (WSU) because he thought he would enter the medical field. Then he found out he really disliked it.

"I had a deep interest in history and wanted to be involved with that. I wanted to have an impact on others," he explained as he indicated his switch to education.

He finished his degree at WSU and student taught at Plainview-Elgin-Millville which helped him realize he could actually become a teacher. He admitted that through student teaching, he found out he was pretty good at it and that it was something he really enjoyed doing. "Either you love it or hate it," he noted.

There was no question in Dick's mind that he would be a social studies teacher. His grandfather had instilled an interest through the telling of many of his World War II stories. "He's the reason why I love history so much," Dick explained.

After graduating in 2011, Dick landed a part-time social studies teaching job at United South Central Schools in Wells, Minn. However, he kept his eyes open for a full-time position closer to home. When a social studies position opened up at Fillmore Central, he jumped at the chance.

He will be teaching seven classes per day in the new eight-hour schedule at the high school: two sections each of seventh- and eighth-grade United States studies, civics and history and two sections of a tenth grade history class.

Dick said he likes teaching shorter classes. "Once you get past 40 minutes, people aren't paying attention as much," he explained. Within the time he has, he plans on making the most of it.

"I enjoy interacting with the students and watching them learn," Dick said. "I like to have as much participation as possible."

In order to effectively run the classroom, he expects there to be mutual respect. "I have to respect students and they have to respect me," he stated. The goal he has is to have every student engage themselves in learning.

With the integration of laptops into every Fillmore Central ninth- through twelfth-grade classroom, Dick sees opportunities for such engagement in learning.

"If we used laptops every day, that would drain us and the kids would be sick of the laptops," explained Dick on the tools he will be using to better integrate the laptops.

In addition to the computers, the classes will use textbooks and Dick will direct lecture and hold discussion times as well.

"I think the positive interaction with the laptops might grow because there is more access to data and information," Dick stated. He plans on allowing students to use their laptops as research tools for presentations, papers and finding additional information during discussions. As with most teachers, Dick stated his only concern as being that of a distraction. He will dictate when they can and cannot be used.

The laptops will also provide better communication between Dick, his students and, in extension, the parents. If there is a problem with homework or if something good happens, Dick said it will be easier to communicate that to the students and let parents know what is going on in the classroom.

According to Dick, history needs to be understood through all different perspectives. He hopes to help his students evaluate how they think and try to understand the way other people think. This will help students relate what is going on in the world today with what went on in history.

Tying current events in with discussions on historical events is just one way Dick will teach, and just one way he will unwrap the layers of understanding to the students.

Multi-layered, complex issues and people intrigue Dick, which is why his favorite historical figure in Theodore Roosevelt. Lining his desk are bobbleheads of three other U.S. presidents: Washington, Lincoln and Kennedy. He is looking to add Roosevelt to his collection.

Dick will be the eighth grade advisor and plans on coaching sports as soon as he can. He loves music and started a tradition last year with playing music before class on Friday, which was a hit with students.

When not teaching, Dick enjoys hunting, biking, camping, kayaking and just spending time outdoors. He has enjoyed living in Bluff Country for most of his life and is happy to be close to home once again as he starts a new chapter in his teaching career.