Meet Mr. Christiansen
Mr. Christiansen is the new Apex High School shop and woodworking teacher. A proud Michiganite and Western Michigan University Alumni, Christiansen has been teaching a variety of subjects for over a decade, including carpentry, foundry, drafting and welding. Last week, he sat down with the Legacy for an interview.
What first interested you about teaching; was it a specific teacher/professor, experience, class or assignment?
I’ve had several great teachers over the years that have been my inspiration. I had Mrs. Bentley in first grade. She was a big influence overall as an educator. Mrs. Chu was my fourth grade teacher, and she peaked my interest in reading and learning. And then my high school shop teacher Mr. Certa was the biggest influence; I just really admired the program and the way he taught it, and it made me want to be a shop teacher myself. As well in college, I had a couple CTE teachers who continued my passion into my career as a teacher.
What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?
I love to barbecue; I like smoking different meats like ribs, pulled pork, and pork butts. I also like to do a whole hog barbecue. I’m also into urban kayaking. Whenever there is a huge rainstorm that floods the different canals and creeks around the city, I like to pop into my kayak and kayak areas that would not normally have water. People give you a second look like, “Where did this guy come from?” I am also a fan of camping and fishing, really anything outdoors. Get outside!
Editor’s Note: Mr. Christiansen also noted he was a fan of specifically tomato based barbecue, referring to North Carolina’s vinegar-based sauces as, “salad dressings”.
If you weren’t teaching, what would you be doing?
I’d probably be building my art sculptures full time, and spending time with my kids. They’re [kids] fun man; they’re a handful of trouble, but they’re great.
What is your all time favorite movie?
Crocodile Dundee, for sure, the best movie ever. It put Australia on the motion picture film radar, and the guy in the movie [Mick Dundee, played by Paul Hogan] is the ultimate outdoorsman who every hunter or fisherman dreams of being. He gets the girl in the end, and he’s effortlessly cool the whole movie while defeating the bad guys!
You’ve been teaching for over fourteen years, what is your most fascinating or inspirational story as a teacher?
When I first started teaching, I wrote a grant to get money to build a full sized trebuchet. Which if people don’t know, it’s kind of like a catapult but with counterweights. It was so big it shot a pumpkin, a twenty-pound pumpkin, from goal post to goal post, and we kept it out on the football field. During the football games at half time we would shoot pumpkins into the uprights on the opposite side of the field. It was awesome, we had the woodshop involved, the metal shop involved, we had math, science, physics and history departments involved too. It was a nice cross-curriculum project that shot pumpkins a hundred and twenty yards. And we made a video about it as a sort of, “Don’t you wish you went to our school,” video, and it’s on Youtube!
(Link included below)
Where do you see yourself in 15 years?
Hm, fifteen years… I’ll still be teaching. I think I’ll probably be at this school. I mean, I’ve only been here for two weeks, and I love it here. I plan on sticking around. There’s good students, good staff, great facility. I’m loving it, not going anywhere!
The following is a video of Mr. Christiansen’s massive student built trebuchet.