Good Talk: Mr. Rhinehart

Meet the atypically flexible AP English teacher who may or may not occasionally wear medieval hoods in public.


photo by Jeannie Schleppy

Jeannie Schleppy, Staff Reporter

What inspired you to be a teacher?

The question isn’t actually easy to answer, but I remember thinking that I wanted a job where part of it was always learning something, because I enjoy learning. Teaching lends itself to that for sure. I remember having different jobs over the years, where my favorite parts of those jobs were training or teaching other people how to do that particular task. I always liked that dynamic aspect in terms of communication and satisfaction from helping others reach their goals. 

What is your most unusual talent?

I think all of my talents are unusual, but one of them is that I have a natural predilection for dance. I just, as my wife puts it, I can move. I’m atypically flexible, and I think that comes from martial arts when I was younger, but I still stretch to maintain that. I don’t know what it is about dancing, but I can just look at something that someone is doing and can imitate it pretty quickly.

What is the funniest thing you’ve seen a student do?

There are quite a few things, but I’ve seen a student acquire a teacher’s chair which would normally have wheels and use it in the hallway to ride up and down it for a good time. While I had to stop that behavior and send them back to the room that they were supposed to be in, in my head I thought it was pretty funny. 

What’s something that people think makes them look good, but in reality they look ridiculous?

Big hoop earrings. It looks like some people actually would have trouble navigating a hallway with them, but apparently it’s a choice that a lot of people like. 

What’s your worst roommate story?

I had a college roommate who would steal things from me and my other roommate. Even one of the times we caught him red-handed, he would lie through his teeth and continue to deny it. I also had another roommate who grew some sort of mold for his chem class or something of that sort and it smelled really bad. The project was long since passed and he just wanted to see where it would go naturally. We had to do an intervention there. 

If you were reincarnated as a famous landmark, what would it be?

I would be the Tower of London because there’s some pretty scary history going on there, but despite that, it seems to be something that a lot of people want to come and visit. 

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

Are we talking nutritionally or just for any reason whatsoever, because my answer will differ. Nutritionally, I would choose something like sweet potatoes or some sort of legume, or nuts. Now, in terms of just enjoying eating and aesthetically, I would choose mint chocolate chip ice cream. 

What is something that isn’t real but you desperately wish it was?

Honest self-assessment in everybody I meet. 

What’s something that you have never been able to do well?

Trigonometry. I can do it, I am fascinated by it, but there’s a definite ceiling to it for me. I’m fascinated by math, and I’m pretty sure the answers to the universe are contained therein if one can just find the avenues, but it won’t be me I don’t think. I also wish I could speed read with the kind of recall and attention to detail that I have when I read normally. 

What would you do if you were invisible for a day?

Everything. I guess it would be a lot of power to put in front of me — the temptation of that is amazing. We would like to think that we wouldn’t do anything unethical, but I think very few people wouldn’t. Certainly, I would listen in on conversations that I wouldn’t have access to. I would try to get into the sacred vaults of the Vatican and take a peek at all of the forbidden items and material.

If you could jump into a pool full of something, what would it be?

Forgiveness. Sometimes it’s not easy to forgive myself or others and I want to all the time, but it’s not easy. 

If you had a warning label, what would yours say?

Slightly off-kilter, interact at your own risk. 

If you could talk to one species of animal, what would it be?

It would be either a dolphin or a whale. 

What is your favorite cheesy quote?

It would be from the character Frank Burns on MASH. “It’s nice to be nice to the nice.” 

If you were offered three wishes, what would they be?

The first thing I would do is find out if I had to state them all immediately or use them when I needed them. Assuming that I had to use them all right now, I would wish for independent wealth to the point of being able to pursue my interests, love, and passion for things where an income through a job wasn’t necessary in order to live. That only makes sense to me with good health, so I would also wish for a top-notch immune system, if it were a contest I would win out of everybody on the planet kind of thing. The last thing I would wish for a sense of contentment, whatever that form comes in. 

Would you rather never play or always lose?

I would try to seek out an option C, but since you’re not allowing me that, I would choose to always lose. 

What’s the best type of cheese?

Smoked gouda. 

In one word, how would you sum up the internet?

Demanding. The internet demands new approaches and a sense of values and ethics to anyone using it and engaging in it. Interpersonal dynamics don’t necessary demand the same ethics that the internet does, and it also demands a kind of application and understanding that allows it to become a resource and not a hindrance.

What is the most embarrassing thing you have ever worn?

I wore a medieval hood out in public for no particular reason. I was thinking that I didn’t want to wear a jacket or hoodie, but I do want something so I just wore the medieval hood thinking it was pretty cool. Now, I still feel no sense of embarrassment about it, but I think most everyone I know feels it for me.