Thursday, May 16, 2013

20th Anniversary: Mr. Zeegers: The Unpredictable Life

Mr. Dan Zeegers
MS Math

Mr. Zeegers is well-known for being a demanding teacher at KIS. Good discipline and good work ethic are his top priorities. "Boredom" though, is not a word associated with him. His former student, Maryna, remembers only 5 years ago, "Mr. Zeegers would amaze us all with his chicken dance... the way his arms turned into wings and the way he could re-form his body to the shape of a chicken!"

This interesting story may be drawn back to the days of youth when he was an adventurous boy, living in America, and working at Walt Disney World. He was enjoying his life and had no intention of moving to any country, more so, Ukraine.

When he was younger, Mr. Zeegers used to live in different states, born in New York, lived in Florida, California, and even on an island off of Florida. "We got to swim on the beach every day," he recalled, "and, wow, life was really beautiful." 

One of his first jobs was waiting tables at a restaurant at Disney World. There, he worked along side older female staff members who, as he said, "kept pinching my cheeks and pulling on my ears all the time." Later, he became a boat tour guide in the Disney Park. He was required to give a serious lecture on how plants grew without soil. But guess what? "It was such a boring speech that I just couldn't stand saying it, so instead I would tell jokes all the time... And then, of course, I got in trouble," he confessed.

Family Picture
College life was not very rigid either. For 10 years, Mr. Zeegers kept going back and forth between work, education, and leisure. While earning his Business Management Degree at San Diego State University, he took some time off and enjoyed wind-surfing on the California beaches. "Between the combination of fun and finances and work, you know, school had to be only part time," he explained.

When Mr. Zeegers returned to Florida in 1993, he worked as a manager at a dinner theater. However, he was still not satisfied, and one day, he read a newspaper ad that changed his whole life - a school in Ukraine was looking for a person who would teach for 1 year. Young and enthusiastic, Mr. Zeegers was interested in a country he knew nothing about. After some research and negotiations, he accepted the job.

Leaving everything behind, Mr. Zeegers arrived in Ukraine for what he thought would be only a year. Life, though, had its own plan for him. "And then I met my wife... And then I fell in love with her... And then I didn't want to leave her..." he admitted. Suddenly, a year became almost 20 years.

Throughout these years numerous things have changed in his life. Evidently, instead of becoming a successful businessman, he established a close bond with teaching. He went from being a PE teacher, to teaching middle school, to elementary,
and back to middle school. As he reflected, one of his brightest educational experiences was in the elementary:
Teaching Elementary Students
Elementary was fun because it's not like working with high school kids or middle school kids where their brain is all like scrambled eggs, right. You're dealing, in ten-year-olds, with kids who just are like giant sponges. And they just want to learn everything. And they want to make you happy. And no matter what, if you teach them, they're happy. And they want to do the best. And they are all competing to be the best.

When questioned about his future plans, Mr. Zeegers stated his views, avoiding guarantees:
"Life is really unpredictable. Like I come across kids all the time who think they know what they're gonna do when they get older, and I just laugh at them because I had no idea where Ukraine even was and here I am sitting  for 18 years. So what am I gonna do when I get older? I don't know."

By Olexandra Rovinska