The spotlight is on Trinity teacher Dennis Staffelbach today!
Q: How long have you been teaching at Trinity?
A: I started at Trinity in 1983 and left for law school at Notre Dame in 1986. I practiced law until 1993 and then came back to Trinity. I’ve been teaching full-time since then. Total: 25 ½ years.
Q: What's one of your favorite "Trinity stories"?
The time: May, 2005
The place: the basketball courts
The event: the boys’ finals of Trinity School’s annual March Madness Basketball Tournament
The scene: Jim Barrett and Zach Harris are senior co-captains. Jim Barrett, athlete extraordinaire, has the ball with time running out. They are down by one point.
The denouement: I’m refereeing the game and expect Jim’s signature hard drive; he would undoubtedly make the lay up and be fouled equally hard, probably two or three times. It was as predictable as the weather in May in South Bend, Indiana. So . . . at the last second he lowers his shoulder and starts to drive, then, to the crowd’s astonishment, dishes off the ball an unguarded Zach. Now Zach Harris would be the first to admit that, unlike his co-captain, he is not an athlete extraordinaire. Zach is standing somewhere between the top of the key and the imaginary half-court line. As if he was expecting the pass, Zach takes the ball and confidently heaves up a NBA three, and . . . of course, nails it, nothing but net. While the students explode in cheers, Jim and the rest of the team carry Zach on their shoulders off the court and into my memory, forever.
Q: What are you reading right now?
A: I usually have a few books going, one for my courses and the others for leisure. The curricular related book that I’m reading is a popular history book, The Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans, and the Battle for Europe, by Andrew Wheatcroft. For leisure I’m reading, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain and Night Soldiers an “historical spy novel” set between the world wars, by Alan Furst.
Q: What's your favorite food?
A: Perhaps it is because I grew up in Hawai’i, but I like most any spicy Asian food. I particularly enjoy Korean, Thai, and anything Szechuan.
Q: What are you listening to?
A: Usually I listen to whatever my sons are listening to. Luke is a junior, and he is a rabid Blink 182 fan; so I listen to Blink 182, and actually I enjoy their music and learning about them as a group. So did you know that they are releasing a new album this year? I did.
When I’m doing chores or working out at the gym, I listen to audible books, especially old classics that I have not read. I just finished Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and I am currently listening to The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.
Q: Do you have any hobbies?
A: I have a passion for deer hunting. As far as hobbies go, I like to experiment with the products of deer hunting. For example I’ve tanned a couple hides, made soap from deer lard, and this past week I’ve been making venison kielbasa with my daughters.
Q: What do you do to continue learning?
A: Usually I continue learning by reading and talking with my colleagues. However this past summer I spent three weeks at the NEH summer institute in Istanbul, Turkey, on the history of the city from the 4th to the 20th centuries. I also traveled to Krakow, Poland, and “visited” the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz. This summer I’ll be attending a two-week educators’ conference at the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. on teaching the Holocaust to high school students.