Good Talk: Mr. Sekelik

Quinn Volpe, Co-Editor-in-Chief

You graduated NA in 2003.  What is the best part about being back at NASH?

The green chalkboards still span the entire wall. I also enjoy the energy of the building. From class to class, this school has a different energy. Whether it’s because of being only two grades, or I’m just biased, we’ll never know.

What did you do here as a student? 

I was on the Baseball Team, and we were the WPIAL champions in 2003. Mr. Maddix, who is still a teacher here, was the 2003 Infield Coach.

Where did you go to college and what did you major in?

I went to Ohio University for secondary math education. 

What hobbies do you enjoy outside of teaching?

I have many. My son and I have collected Pokemon cards for about a year now. Our favorites are Pikachu, Ninetales, Snorlax, and Ho-Oh. We have collected enough that we conduct a store occasionally at my friend’s barbershop. From the artwork to the possible financial gain, it has been a wonderful father/son activity and we have kept sealed products for him and his brother to open as adults. Hopefully it will bring back the nostalgia that so many have experienced recently. My collection of shoes has grown during my teaching career. I have an estimated 40 pairs of Jordans, Air Max, Ultra Boost, etc. Simply put, your shoes should match your outfit. Also, you can find me on video games like Apex, Clash Royale, Candy Crush, Call of Duty, and Rocket League. I also play ping pong and was the 2016 Pittsburgh South Hills Amateur C champion. When it comes to board games from Terraforming Mars to Codenames, my family and I play them all. Lastly, I love golf– one day I’ll beat my dad. 

How and why did you decide to become a math teacher?

I enjoy talking, explaining, and performing. I am a prime example of a left-brained human. I enjoy situations in which there is a right and wrong answer, and I am driven by the methods to get to the correct answer. I also pride myself on the ability to read a situation and provide alternative methods on how to solve a problem. On the contrary, I did not want to explain history, literature, or the periodic table.

If you weren’t a teacher, what would you do for work?

I think I could do a few other things. Sales is an option because teaching is a performance. You present material in an effective way, stating the how and the why. Your students are your clients. I feel that my skills would transfer well into that world. I could be a hobby shop owner because I love collecting items and helping others develop their collection. I would enjoy having a space where others could join in on my hobbies. I can see myself as a personal trainer as well because motivating and encouraging are two main traits of an effective teacher. I’d couple that with fitness to help others achieve their goals. 

What did you do for work before you came to teach at NASH?

I taught math for 14 years at Shuman Juvenile Detention Center and spent a few weeks teaching math at the Allegheny County Jail.

How have these experiences shaped you as a teacher and a person?

At Shuman, I wore many hats. Not only did I teach math, but I was also a role model, brother, dad, bodyguard, therapist,  and everything in between. Every day. My days were spent handling situations that dealt with far more than math-related concepts. I helped my students become better people. From manners to respect, we stressed the desire to always improve. Through this, I bring a unique perspective to the North Allegheny classroom. My main priority is to build a classroom where all students know that their unique needs are important to me.

What experiences in your career will you never forget?

I will never forget how much my students cared about my personal life. They always remembered all my children’s names and asked for updates any time they would (unfortunately) return to Shuman. I was able to give them a sense of a healthy family structure and be a caring, responsible adult in their lives.

What piece(s) of advice do you offer to all of your students or anyone else who will listen?

I like the Jocko Willink quote: “You must own everything in your world. There is no one else to blame.” You have the ability every day to make a change. That change can be for the better or for the worse. That change can affect you and/or others. That change is up to you. Make a positive change. Every day.

What are your favorite snacks and drinks?

My absolute favorite is Albanese World’s Best 12 flavor Gummi Bears (All 12 flavors are a valuable choice. Not many snacks can stake that claim.) I also love Kit Kat Duos (mint and dark chocolate), Utz Pub Mix, Snyder Hawaiian Sweet Onion chips, Dairy Queen Mint Oreo Blizzard, Glacier Cherry Gatorade, Diet Dr. Pepper, and peach iced tea.