Teachers share fun obsessions

Emily Schmidt, Copy Editor

Author and physician Alex Lickerman believes “obsession, when made to serve us, can bring out our most capable selves, motivating us to find the creativity and ingenuity to solve incredibly difficult problems,”

If teachers only focused on the stresses and difficulties they face daily, they’d burn out rapidly. Here are a few things that get teachers around our building through the stacks of papers to be graded and lesson plans to be written:

Dr. Pepper

Math teacher Jacob Eitzen has used one drink in numerous practice problems for his classes and to stock his fridge: Dr. Pepper. The most spectacular dedication to the soda, a mosaic of parts from Dr. Pepper boxes that spans the entire back window of room 321, didn’t begin until he moved classrooms a couple years ago.

“When I first moved into this classroom I wanted something to decorate my classroom that was a little bit more personable than a math formula so I decided to commit the back wall to Dr. Pepper boxes,” Eitzen said.

Eitzen first became hooked in college when he needed a caffeine fix.

“When I was studying a lot in college I wanted a beverage to get me through those late nights,” Eitzen said. “And Dr. Pepper was my friend.”

He’s also hung a poster detailing the evolution of the soda’s logo on the back wall. It’s a souvenir from one of three visits to the Dr. Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute in Waco, TX, the founding place of the soda.

“Basically every time I go through Waco, TX I have to stop, make the annual pilgrimage,” Eitzen said.

One of the old logos sports the numbers “10”, “2”, and “4”. It’s the result of an ad campaign from the 1920s and 30s. At the time, research was just proving that sugar provides energy and that people experienced a lull at 10:30, 2:30, and 4:30. Dr. Pepper held a contest to create an ad using the information and the winning slogan was “Drink a bite to eat at 10, 2, and 4.”

“When I’m not on a diet, I’ll follow the rules: 10, 2, and 4.” Eitzen said.

Minnesota Vikings

Science teacher Erik Johnson’s obsession started much earlier than Eitzen’s. Johnson has been devotedly following the Minnesota Vikings since he was eight years old. The first game he attended in Minneapolis at age nine with his father and brothers was “cold, fun, and something I will never forget.”

“My dad’s a pastor and so we’d be in church on Sundays until 12, 12:30 and I could not wait to get home to watch the Vikings,” Johnson said. “I would always rush home, run downstairs, and turn the TV on immediately.”

The whole Johnson household has become die hard fans, and their house, complete with a “Vikings Cave” for a basement and a Vikings Christmas tree, is the place to be on game days. The family makes it up to Minneapolis every year for Training Camp, but last December was made special when they went to a game at the U.S. Bank Stadium.

“It was my wife’s, Hannah’s, and Andrew’s first game,” Johnson said. “We really wanted to go as a family before Hannah went to college.”

Johnson looks forward to whenever the Vikings play the Green Bay Packers, the Chicago Bears, or the Detroit Lions. He’s bonded with Packers fan dean Gary Graner, Bears fan science teacher Wade McVey, and Lions fan English teacher Adam Heuertz.

“The week that we play them we always make little bets and friendly little competitions,” Johnson said.

Iowa Hawkeyes

English teacher and Iowa Hawkeyes fan Amy Smith has also been a part of friendly competitions when the Hawkeyes play the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

“Mrs. Daughtrey started this bet a couple years ago because she was thinking that the Huskers were gonna win and [the Hawkeyes] have won both times so she’s had to wear face tattoos,” Smith said. “But it’s not because I made that rule, that was totally her.”

With both her parents coming from Iowa and her father even attending the school for some time, Iowa football and basketball were heavily featured on the TV. Hawkeye basketball was especially exciting for Smith when former Iowa women’s basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer led the team to six Conference Championships. She enjoys that Iowa’s programs are “building programs and not focused on glory.”

“I love that it’s multifaceted instead of just being about one program,” Smith said. “It’s not just a one sport school.”

Smith has attended several games as both a visiting fan at Memorial Stadium and a home fan at Kinnick Stadium. The family used to joke their youngest was a good luck charm as the Hawkeyes won every game they attended.

“The fans are great in both spots and being in Kinnick, similar to if you are a Husker fan, that sense of comradery, just how exciting it is to cheer for your team, wearing the right thing, the wave, it’s just exciting,” Smith said.


While a visit to the dentist can spark fear in younger children and even some adults, it also was what sparked business teacher Chad Huseth’s love for Spider-Man. After a five-year-old Huseth had a good check-up with no cavities, the dentist let him pick a prize. One of his options was a comic book written by a toothpaste company in which Spider-Man taught you how to brush your teeth. Huseth chose it and guesses he read it “probably 2000 times.”

“One of my students a couple years ago went out and found me a copy of that comic book online, so I have it now and I read it with my son,” Huseth said.

Huseth has taught in room 342 for thirteen years. Hanging next to his desk in an old West basketball jersey is a life-size Spider-Man plush toy that has been with him since day one. Huseth won it the summer before he started at West for 3,200 tickets at Dave and Busters.

“Everybody has their own favorite superhero for a reason, but why I guess I fell in love with Spider-Man when I was a kid was he could have been anybody,” Huseth said. “A lot of the same problems that a lot of people have is what he had, so I guess he was always easy for me to identify with cause he was just a normal kid.”