Meet Mr. Patton
This week, the Warrior Word sat down with Mr. Patton, a new History teacher at the school. Get to know him as he talks about his passion for traveling and his fascinating journey to becoming a History teacher.
Kayla Herssein: What’s your name?
Mr. Patton: My name is Tim Patton.
KH: Where were you born and raised?
MP: I was born in Wichita, Kansas, but I was raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
KH: Summarize which places you’ve lived in, and what you found special about each.
MP: Well, besides Iowa and Kansas, I’ve lived in Bahrain, which is a small, tiny country next to Saudi Arabia. I’ve lived in Jamaica, Venezuela, and recently Egypt. And special for each? Buchrain was my first country that I’ve ever lived overseas. Its location in the Middle East allowed me to travel to lots of places, like Nepal, so it was a lot of fun with that. Jamaica: well, the island’s amazing. It’s beautiful—the mountains, the oceans; you can see everything. Any type of landscape you might want to go visit, you can go see, well, except for snow. Venezuela: well, people really. Probably some of the nicest and friendliest people I’ve ever met. And then Egypt, too: so much of the history as you might expect. Pyramids, the Nile, some of the best scuba diving in the entire world is there in the Red Sea.
KH: Did you go Scuba diving?
MP: Yeah, yeah. I did that in the Caribbean, in Venezuela, and also did some of those activities in the Red Sea. And some of the best coral reefs are in the Red Sea: either up against Egypt’s side, or Israel’s side, or even Saudi’s.
KH: Why did you choose to move to Miami?
MP: My wife and I decided it was time to come back to the United States for a little bit. I applied to many places, and it ended up that Hebrew Academy was a pretty good match. I think that Dr. Leiber and Mr. Matla had a lot to do with convincing me to come here.
KH: Are you allowed to elaborate on that?
MP: Well, the jobs that I’ve been doing for international teaching. I’m an independent contractor, you might say. I apply through an agency to a bunch of schools. I do interviews, they do interviews with me, and you kind of just see what works out. So, I wouldn’t say that Miami was really a place I had in mind, but then I taught a lesson with last year’s 10th graders, and I really enjoyed talking to some of the staff and stuff. You just kind of get a good feeling about it. Now, my wife’s family—my in-laws and stuff—do live kind of close nearby, so they were pretty happy that we decided to come here too.
KH: What’s your favorite thing about Hebrew Academy?
MP: So far, I can definitely see the kind of community that’s there. It’s hard to see with COVID, but that was one of the things that I kind of saw that was going on. People really thought a lot on spending time with each other, and not everyone gets along of course, but there’s a certain kind of respect that I see here in the community that goes on, and I’ve enjoyed being a part of that. I’ve been in some schools that don't have that sense of community.
KH: Can you expand on that? How does Hebrew Academy differ from those schools?
MP: Well, some of it is kind of cultural here. What I can kind of see, as kind of an outsider here, is that a lot of us are coming from a lot of the same areas, or have a lot of the same values and such--that sometimes, brings us together. And then also for the most part, everyone treats each other with the same kind of respect too, I would say. At least at a certain level. Not everything’s perfect, but I’ve seen here a kind of caring between people. It’s refreshing; I sometimes see that and sometimes I don’t.
KH: What do you like and dislike about Miami—the place in general?
MP: I think what I like about Miami is that there’s just so many different cultures in such a close area that you can have access too. I live in an area that’s right between Little Havana and Hialeah, and Miami itself, and I’m very close to Wynwood. In all those things, well, it’s kind of all there. And dislike: well, no one likes traffic, but I would say my commute is not really that bad compared to what people have to drive. When I was in Egypt, my commute was an hour to two hours, so this is not so bad in comparison. Egypt is 26 million people and I think Florida’s what—12? So, you get the idea of what it’s like to have that many people there; this is a lot easier. And I mean some people might say, “What about the heat?” Well, coming from Egypt…
KH: Why did you decide to become a history teacher?
MP: Originally, I didn’t want to. Originally, I was a business computer’s management information systems is what they call it, and a vocal performance double major, because I couldn’t decide which. So, I either wanted to do performance, or consulting for computer business. The job market in 2005 and 2006 was not very good, and I didn’t want to be a software tester. So, I had a teacher back in high school saying: “Hey, you should teach!” I’m the oldest of four kids in the family, and I didn’t want to have to deal with children anymore. I told him, "Thanks but no thanks." In university, I ended up doing this month-long education program where I worked in a school, and I loved it. I ended up kind of coming back to it, and that was something that I hadn’t given a real chance. I love talking about Social Studies and History. I see the classroom a little bit like a theatre; it’s a place that people can perform and kind of play a role, and be creative too. So combine that, and I think that’s a lot of fun.
KH: What activities or hobbies do you enjoy outside of school?
MP: Well, of course I love to travel. I mean, if I ever get around to it, I’d like to buy a bicycle and start exploring the places that cars don’t get me to. I like to experience new things. So, part of traveling is just going and seeing “What is here?” When I was in Egypt, there was all this history. Here in Florida, there’s the rivers, the oceans and such, the beaches, and I’ve just got to start figuring out what I like best about that. So, give me some time.
KH: As a History Teacher, do you believe your perspective of the virus differs from others?
MP: Some, some. I mean, I am usually that irritating person, or irritating teacher that says: “Well, things have been bad in the past, you know, it’s been so much worse." Then someone says: “Mr. Patton, the Black Plague doesn’t count.” Yeah, Okay, fine. It’s not to say that COVID isn’t dangerous, or isn’t really tragic for people. As a history teacher, sometimes History teachers kind of get stuck in looking at the entire scope of past, and sometimes they’re not very empathetic. Sometimes, I would be accused of perhaps not being as empathetic towards people’s challenges because, well, it was so much worse in 1918, or it was so much worse in the 13th Century. It’s not really fair to compare it, but yeah, that is true.
KH: What do you wish to accomplish with your students by the end of the year?
MP: Depends on the class. AP: get them to pass and get into University. With 9th and 10th grade, to improve on writing skills would be a big part of it. Feel confident in making an argument that isn’t just relating facts—having some sort of controversy that they feel confident in saying: “This is why I think this was done in this way, or why it should be done in this way,” and persuasively bringing out that answer.
KH: Lastly, do you generally have any particular message for your students generally?
MP: Take what you want and pay for it. Meaning, take ownership for your decisions, own up to them, and whether it ends up being a good or bad decision, make it yours.
Compiled By Kayla Herssein (10th grade)