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The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High

Pathfinder

The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High

Pathfinder

Flashback Friday: Business teacher Paul Schwent

Business+teacher+Paul+Schwent+sits+at+his+desk+and+smiles+for+a+photo.+Both+Schwent+and+principal+John+McCabe+came+to+Parkway+West+as+new+staff+last+year.+%E2%80%9CI+was+a+teacher+at+Fern+Ridge+High+School+for+22+years%2C%E2%80%9D+Schwent+said.+%E2%80%9CI+really+liked+working+for+McCabe%2C+and+when+he+told+me+he+was+coming+over%2C+I+thought+about+applying+for+a+position+that+opened+up+here.+I+taught+business+education+at+Fern+Ridge%2C+but+all+my+students+liked+the+tech+courses+more+than+the+non-tech+courses%3B+it+was+much+easier+to+keep+them+engaged.%E2%80%9D
Sakenah Lajkem
Business teacher Paul Schwent sits at his desk and smiles for a photo. Both Schwent and principal John McCabe came to Parkway West as new staff last year. “I was a teacher at Fern Ridge High School for 22 years,” Schwent said. “I really liked working for McCabe, and when he told me he was coming over, I thought about applying for a position that opened up here. I taught business education at Fern Ridge, but all my students liked the tech courses more than the non-tech courses; it was much easier to keep them engaged.”
Business teacher Paul Schwent smiles for his senior band picture. Schwent played the saxophone all four years of high school while also participating in marching band and jazz band. “My junior high experience was really transformative for me. I liked my teachers. I liked my school. My high school experience, I enjoyed even more. I wasn’t popular. I was a geeky kid in the marching band, but I had a lot of other nerdy friends in the band. I really enjoyed it,” Schwent said. (Photo courtesy of Paul Schwent)

What school did you go to?

[I went to elementary school at] St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Colorado, Mo. For middle school, I went to the Francis Howell School District. Back then, they [were] called junior high schools, [and] I was at Hollenbeck Junior High for my seventh and eighth grade year. [For] my high school years, I was at Francis Howell.

How was your childhood home life?

My home life was good. My grade school experience wasn’t good, so home was like a safe place. Home was where I became a video gamer, where I got into music. I got really into the 80’s culture at that time. I have a lot of good memories [of] both of my parents, [as] a child, so I was very fortunate. I didn’t live in a broken household or anything, so no complaints about my upbringing.

What has changed, what hasn’t?

Parents today are a lot more hands-on, which is both good and bad. I was doing stuff I had no business doing when I was growing up: driving too fast, going to too many parties, staying out too late. You can infer what else that led to. The pendulum has swung the other way now, and a lot of parents –- there are still some hands-off parents, of course –- are very hands-on. It isn’t necessarily bad, although it can make kids feel like they don’t have any self-efficacy. A lot of young people today are really scared about adulting because they haven’t been prepared. Their parents take care of everything instead of saying, ‘You figure it out.’ I’m not saying it’s all bad today [or that] the way I was raised was perfect, but the biggest difference is parents today tend to be much more involved in what their kids are doing — for better or worse.

 

When did you know you wanted to be a teacher and teach this subject?

Business teacher Paul Schwent poses for his first-grade school photo. Schwent attended St. Joseph’s Catholic School in 1982. “I did not have a great grade school experience, so I blocked a lot of those memories out. I went to a private school and was bullied a lot by the other kids and teachers,” Schwent said. “One of my inspirations to become a teacher was because when I switched schools going into my seventh grade year, I had some really good teachers, and I was like, ‘Wait a minute, this is what school is supposed to be like.’ That showed me how big of a difference the school you go to [makes] and [how] who teaches you can make your whole experience.” (Photo courtesy of Paul Schwent)
I decided I wanted to be a teacher in my junior year of high school. I had a marketing class with Ms. Rosa, and we learned about advertising. We were talking about stuff that was going on right now, [with] a lot of pop culture references, [compared to other] subjects in school I found boring. I [typically] thought my teachers were good, but I didn’t always like the subjects. Marketing got me and I thought it was really interesting. At that point, I knew I wanted to teach and I knew I wanted to be a business teacher. I don’t teach marketing anymore — I haven’t taught marketing in ages —- but I still teach business education. I gravitate more towards the ‘tech-y’ side of things, just because I’m better at that, but marketing is why I decided to go into teaching business.

Tell me a childhood story that always makes you smile. 

Growing up, my dad usually worked the evening shift at the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company. He worked from 4 p.m. to midnight. At midnight on Saturdays, [there was] a TV station, Channel 11, that would always show reruns of “The Three Stooges.” So, every Saturday night, my dad would try to get home early, bring us White Castle and sit up and watch “The Three Stooges” [together]. As a kid, getting to stay up till midnight was already amazing. Getting to stay up at midnight to hang out with your dad, who you didn’t see a whole lot during the week, was even more amazing. And he brought White Castle. What’s not to love about that?

What things make you nostalgic when you see them/hear them/smell them/ feel them?

The smell of White Castle. The smell of doughnuts, because we used to get warm donuts a lot growing up. Music is a big trigger for me [too]. Any type of ‘80s pop or rock music I love.

Business teacher Paul Schwent stands beside his car on his last day of high school. Schwent had just finished senior year and celebrated the accomplishment with a school tradition. “For the last day of senior year, Francis Howell had a tradition where the seniors all got out and had a snowball fight, except it was with whipped cream and shaving cream. We got all messed up and had to drive home in our car like that,” Schwent said. (Photo courtesy of Paul Schwent)
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Sakenah Lajkem, Staff Writer
Pronouns: she/her Grade: 12 Years on staff: 2 What is your favorite piece of literature? Projekt 1065 by Alan Gratz. Who is your hero? Jesus Christ. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? My mom's mashed potatoes.
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