Ahead of the curve

Spotlight on Dr. Raatjes

Ahead of the curve

Jon Pointon, Staff Writer

This past Friday I sat down with the ever-humble Lincoln-Way Central teacher, Dr. Aaron Raatjes, for an enthusiastic discussion on what education means for students and how the Lincoln-Way district served to help him reach his goals today. Cool and collected, he agreed to an interview and we quickly delved into the specifics on his personal high school and college education. Dr. Raatjes explained how he attended both Lincoln-Way Central and Lincoln-Way East when Lincoln-Way Central had two campuses, stating that he ‘started a Knight and finished a Griffin.’ (I found this particularly interesting as some of us began as Griffins and now finish a Knights.) It was during his sophomore year at Central, he explained, that an art teacher of his inspired him to solidify his plan to become a teacher himself.

After his junior year at Lincoln-Way East, he packed up and was ready to study abroad in Europe. At age eighteen, Dr. Raatjes finished his senior year of high school in Vienna, Austria–half way across the world from home. He attended a ‘Gymnasium’ (Austrian prep-college) before attending the world-renowned Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany. When asked what he enjoyed about studying abroad, he simply replied, “You become so self-sufficient.” He followed this up with the outlooks he had on himself as a young man, explaining that it was amazing to have the opportunity to travel Europe, climb the Alps and learn. “I could have been at home playing video games; instead, Rotary International gave me this wonderful gift of studying abroad, and I will forever be grateful for the experience.” He then took a semester abroad at Humboldt, Berlin. After which, he went on to graduate from Hope College in Holland, Michigan.

Dr. Raatjes recently completed his Ed.D (Doctor of Education) from Loyola University and became known in Lincoln-Way Central German classes as ‘Herr Doktor Raatjes,’ or ‘Mister Doctor Raatjes’ in English. When I asked him what comes next, Dr. Raatjes replied that he is considering getting his ESL (English as a Second Language) endorsement, explaining, “Teachers love to learn, and I am no different. The great news is that there is always more to learn.” I then decided to conclude the interview by asking him if there are any words of advice that he would like to give, that he wished had been given to him as a young student in the academic process. His response was one I had not expected – he could come up with nothing. He explained, “I think it speaks to the quality of preparation that I got from Lincoln-Way: you know, as a student, I always felt that throughout my college and professional career I was prepared. In fact, I was ahead of the curve.” He quickly followed up by adding, “My advice to Lincoln-Way students would be to take advantage of what Lincoln-Way has to offer and appreciate it in the moment. In the future, you will see that if you take advantage of it, it is going to serve you. It certainly has for me.”