This school year of 2019 at Gull Lake Community Schools, there have been many new elements, such as new teachers. Ray Antel is an English Language Arts teacher at Gull Lake High school. This is his first year teaching at Gull Lake. Previously, Antel has worked at Wayland Union schools and Kentwood High School.
At the previous school he worked at (Kentwood and Wayland), he was a long term substitute and taught English and Special Ed. At Gull Lake, he teaches English with the age groups 6th grade, 9th grade and 10th grade. Most of his day is spent at the High school and begins his day over to the Middle School, working with his 6th graders. He has developed a passion for teaching such age groups.
“Middle and High Schoolers are some of the most interesting people in the world and both are at an excellent stage of life for introducing earth-shaking and brain-breaking new concepts,” said Antel.
Antel said he came to Gull Lake because the demographics of Gull Lake reflect the demographics he related to and speak to “with the most efficacy.”
He said this immensely helped his transition between schools, but whatever the demographics, he said he loves working with kids.
‘’The administration and department leadership at Gull Lake are more supportive and student-centered than those of any other school I have worked in or heard of,” he said.
Antel got his major in Philosophy and English at Alma College. He then got a Masters of Education at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids. At Alma College, he was in theatre and acted in more than ten productions within four years. He had four leading roles out of those ten. At Gull Lake, he is currently helping with the PAC program.
Antel wanted to pursue being an English teacher because he believed that this field offered more of an opportunity to learn about beliefs, philosophies and others opinions.
“I don’t think the average American takes the time to think critically about these things,” he said.
In that, he said that English language arts can give one the opportunity to think about those things, and to know themselves better.
“I’m all about giving my students more power in their lives,” Antel said. “I think ELA is the subject that stands to empower its students the most.’’
With it being his first year at Gull Lake, there had to be the first day. On his first day, he said he felt “positively stoked and more than a little terrified.’’
He expected worse than what the outcome was.
“The support I have received thus far from my fellow teachers and administrators has been above and beyond anything I could have expected.” he said.
For his first trimester, he said it wasn’t easy, but “holy cats,” it was fun.
“We have some of the coolest, most entertaining kids in the world here at Gull Lake, and I’m lucky to have this chance to work with them,” he said.
His favorite memory so far at Gull Lake was the Jekyll and Hyde trials.
“It was definitely one of the most successful activities I’ve done with my students,’’ he said.
In the classroom, he said he tries to make it as fun as possible for his students while still getting work done.
“A casual atmosphere and opportunities for student choice make for a class that’s easy to engage with and learn from,” he said.
He wouldn’t consider himself a tough teacher but rather “squishy” and explained why by saying, “No two students are exactly alike, so empathy and understanding are vital for healthy relationships to form.’’
Morgan Ferraco, a student of his, said that Mr. Antel doesn’t just give you packets and worksheets to do.
“He actually makes sure you understand what he’s talking about,” Ferraco said.
Antel said he believes its all for the kids.
“If my kids are not directly benefiting from my class and the skills we practice,” he said, “then I’m not doing my job.”