Good Talk: Mr. Karolski

Meet the NASH Student Council sponsor who is confident he’d win gold if event planning were an Olympic sport!

Kara Mihm, Co-Editor-in-Chief

What is it like being a student at North Allegheny and then returning years later to teach?

At first, it was rather intimidating working with so many of the people who made me want to become a teacher in the first place, but I got comfortable rather quickly. It was nice to see the familiar faces of teachers that I had as a student, and everyone was so supportive, especially starting off through the chaos of the pandemic. A lot of the institutional knowledge from being a student has helped me to not start from scratch and grow.

Has the learning environment and/or student dynamic changed since you were a student?

The school has changed a lot since I was a student, with some new teachers, an entirely new administration, and obviously the pandemic, but so much of the school is the same. When I was a student, we didn’t have one-on-one technology, so we would still go to the computer lab, bring in devices from home, or have a laptop cart if we needed computers, which is a huge difference. I have certainly noticed that the students are more vocal about some things than they were when I was a student. When I was a student, students would certainly have opinions and share them, but it seems like students are more comfortable sharing all sorts of views. What has stayed the same is undoubtedly the drive for excellence. Everyone wants to win the championship, get the highest grades, and just do the best!

As a long-term sub, what does a typical day look like for you? Is it usually the same?

I have been in three different positions as a long-term substitute and each position looked very different. Last year I was at NASH and then I was at MMS teaching Law and Justice, Sociology, and 8th grade American History. This year, I was in gifted education and then technology education for the second semester. Once I am in a certain position, I generally have a routine I get into. With technology education, my typical day is getting everything set for my classes, teaching those classes, and collaborating with other teachers. The main thing that changes day to day is student activities or Student Council which can be very dynamic from one day to another based on the projects we are working on.

How did you get involved with heading the Student Council?

When I was a student, I was deeply involved with the Student Council, running many events at CMS, NAI, and NASH, presenting at district, state, and national Student Council conferences, and loving every minute of it. Last year, I approached the previous advisor and asked if I could help with anything. He said yes, and I got to help with a couple of projects. This year, I saw that they were looking for a new advisor and went to the office to ask if they knew who it was and if I could help that person. When they said they didn’t have one, I stepped in and tried my best to give students what I loved so much in high school, and it has been a blast all year!!

How would people describe you in high school?

I feel like I was all over the place in high school. I was certainly opinionated much more so than I am now. In classes, if a topic came up, I generally let everyone know how I felt about it and enjoyed getting to discuss ideas with anyone I could. With that came the knowledge of what I hadn’t learned yet.

What makes NA special from other schools in the Allegheny County school district?

Having been here both as a student and now as a staff member, the biggest difference is the sheer size. Everything is bigger at NA. When I was a student, I don’t think I truly understood how big we were until I went to a national Student Council conference and a discussion of graduating class sizes brought answers from four students to 400 in a room of about 50 different schools, but NA was in the mid-600s. This large size allows us to do great things in a way a smaller school couldn’t.

What can you be found doing outside of school?

Outside of school, I love to travel. I have two trips planned for the summer, one being a cruise, and another going to Virginia. I like to experience culture in a different city, try new things, and meet new people, and travel really lets you reset and recharge. I also love music, so I always try to sneak in live music, especially over the summer. Also, in the fall the Steelers give me lots of heartaches — regardless, I can be found watching them every week.

If you had not pursued a teaching position, what career would you have done? 

When I was in high school, I was deciding between medicine and teaching. I took an EMT course my senior year of high school and loved emergency medicine but couldn’t stand the hospital environment. I still work on the ambulance as an Advanced EMT on weekends and summers and really enjoy it, so I would probably say some type of medicine whether it be on the trucks or in an ER. A physician’s assistant has always intrigued me as a career choice, and I think I might have gone in that direction.

If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport so that you had a chance at the gold, what would it be?

I don’t know how it would be judged, but probably event planning. I certainly feel that I could go toe to toe with anyone planning an event.

What is your favorite smell? Why?

Easily smoked ribs! I have a smoker at home and that smell will have me hungry all day as I am waiting for them to be ready.

If you were on Iron Chef, what secret ingredient would you hope that the host unveils? What dish would you make with it?

Ground Bison, and I would make a cheddar stuffed bison burger. I love to cook all sorts of things, but I love that dish and it’s fairly unique.

What’s a song that you love that no one would expect you to like?

I am a fan of most music, except for country and rap. As for a song that people wouldn’t expect, probably “Imagine” by John Lennon. It’s an older song, but the lyrics are so idealistic and moving. I’ve loved it since I was little.