Mr. Desotell- AP U.S. History

November 14, 2008
By
Its eighth hour on the first day of school my sophomore year. So far it'd rush after lunch and the anticipation of the end of the day. It is probably the worst possible time to have a history class. But, there it was on my schedule: "AP U.S. History-8th/9th Hour-Mr. Desotell." This was not just your regular boring history class. Oh no, it was a 60 minute vortex to hell from which there was no escape. I was mentally kicking myself for signing up for it. Not only that, but I was the only sophomore in the class and it was an AP so I couldn't just sleep and daydream the whole time. I actually had to pay attention, take notes, and (sigh) learn. As I walked in the door that day, the only thought in my head was- this is going to be a long year in this room.

Generally speaking, history class is not strength of mine. Memorizing names, dates, and places is too time consuming and boring. I’m better at analyzing stuff, like what a story is trying to tell, underneath the plot, or how the concepts in a science class apply to the experiment. History had none of that. It was 'What happened at this time?'; 'What did this guy do?'; 'What happened in this country at this time?' It was way too cut and dry for me. Seeing my teacher didn't help the dry image either. Here was this middle aged, white haired, balding guy who was the epitome of the boring history teacher. As the bell rang for class to start, once again the only thought in my head was-this is going to be a long year with this guy.

Taking all of that into consideration it is shocking that AP U.S. History class turned out to be my favorite course in high school. And, that Mr. Desotell remains my favorite teacher. He made learning about the past interesting, the memorizing easy, and, above all, the class fun. It wasn't just lectures, note taking, and reading. It was learning the information in an interactive class discussion and then attempting to analyze how it all fit together and what the causes and effects of events and actions meant.
We learned how a government's actions have direct impact on everything in the country. Economic, political, and social concepts all became intertwined with each other in the grand scheme of the end result, but remained separate in the causes of that result. Mr. Desotell could explain the cause and effect of anything; he made it so simple to learn the whos, whats, wheres, whens, and whys of history. I wasn't memorizing stuff, I was figuring out how one event led to the next and then changed the outcome of another and so on and so forth. He was energetic, funny, caring, intelligent, and loved getting into spirited debates about anything, not even necessarily history, with any of the students.


As the only sophomore among juniors and seniors, Mr. Desotell made me feel perfectly at home by treating me like the rest of the students but also picking on me from time to time. He called this a "good ribbing" and it made the class fun and lively He gave his "ribbings" out to everyone but liked it best when students would give it back, making fun of his tongue rolling, love of the White Sox, or balding hair. He particularly loathed Marquette basketball, of which I was a fan, and we would routinely get in debates over the Wisconsin-Marquette rivalry.
Mr. Desotell made learning even the most boring economic policy interesting and we even were able to remember the information. He was genuinely interested in the material he taught and made sure every student was too. The greatest thing Mr. Desotell taught me was not about history however. He taught me how to write. We learned how to grab the reader's attention with an intro, map out your paper in the thesis, and make sure every topic has a point to make and is supported by specific details within that topic. I considered myself a great writer going into his class, but afterwards I was an excellent one. I could write about anything, and write about it well. This newfound writing technique has helped me in every single class from English to Mathematics (yes, I did have to write an essay in Functions) to Spanish. He is a unique individual, a fantastic teacher, and a passionate person.

Mr. Desotell should win Educator of the Year because he goes all out to make sure a boring class like history is interesting to everybody and he genuinely cares about each and every person he teaches. Thanks to him I can now write "A" essays on any topic and even managed a four on my end of the year AP test.
Mr. Desotell is like KFC's Colonel Sanders because he is a funny, portly, middle aged guy who can take the blandest chicken, or subject, and add his original blend of personality, lessons, and teaching methods and gives students a rich, tasty, and essential portion of learning every single day.





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Cheering mom said...
Dec. 3, 2008 at 1:20 pm
I could feel your enthusiasm through your writing as the article progressed. Nice use of humor.
 
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