This week's Life in the Spotlight is a man with a passion for touching the lives of others and making a positive difference in the lives around him. This spotlight is Hebron Middle School teacher, Dan Pastrick.
"When I first went to college, I didn't really have a set direction on what to do and where to go," says Pastrick. "I had no clue what I wanted to study and as a result tried out different majors."
Pastrick was then inspired by one professor who he particularly enjoyed. Through his teaching methods, he became inspired and sealed his destiny for following teaching as his career.
"He was a cool professor," says Pastrick. "I listened to him and was inspired going to his classes. It reminded me of the high school teachers I had who inspired me back in the day."
After graduating, Pastrick, with his girlfriend at the time decided to move wherever his job took them and was soon offered a teaching position at Hebron High School.
"I decided that I would settle down wherever my first job was located," says Pastrick. I would go to where it was. Once I found out about Hebron, I decided it was right for me. I always liked the idea of working at a small school."
Pastrick currently teaches as an 8th-grade science teacher, using every day in class to find some way to continue inspiring students and keeping them engaged while utilizing the latest developments in teaching technology.
"The one thing about teaching that has always impressed me was the fact that you always have to change up your methods to remain successful," says Pastrick. "You have to always be willing to mix it up. Different kids have different abilities and to be enthusiastic about it makes sure that they are willing to learn every day."
Pastrick credits the every improving technology in the classroom as powerful tools to continually keep students engaged.
"Students now have the ability to take their Chromebooks from classroom to classroom," says Pastrick. "The internet has opened up a lot of great opportunities for learning and it seems like so much more is being introduced on a yearly basis."
Pastrick was also a nominee for the National Life Group Life Changer of the Year Award, an award designed to highlight excellent teachers and educators throughout the United States. Pastrick was recently notified that he was placed in the top 15 for the 2015-2016 school year, an award that Pastrick is grateful for, but still remains humble about.
"It turns out that our principal talked to me about this nomination after I was already nominated since the school knew that I would never enter on my own accord," says Pastrick. "I was told that I would just have to deal with it. I would have settled for a hug or a fist bump."
Pastrick also is thankful for those who chose him for this award, citing his noble quest of attempting to contact everyone who was responsible for his nomination.
"There are so many to thank," says Pastrick. "My students are like my kids and my colleagues are like my brothers and sisters, they're my family. I have tried to get back to everyone and I don't want to be rude but I am making it my goal to contact everyone as fast as I can."
For Pastrick, teaching is an experience that leaves him with an immense amount of satisfaction. He does it not for awards, praise or recognition, but rather, the opportunity to continue inspiring students much like his initial inspiration years ago.
"Every opportunity I get, I tell my students to not get hung up on the screw-ups, those will happen daily. Instead, I tell them that if they experience failure, simply try a different way," says Pastrick. "
Pastrick leads an equally active life when he's not teaching, spending it with his family as well as coaching and working with other school events. While it may seem that he has no real downtime, for him it's all fun and never really feels like a job.
"Make sure you have a passion for everything you want to do," says Pastrick. "I leave every day wanting to do better and let my students be aware that they should want to do better as well. I can't really choose a single moment that is my favorite when it comes to teaching, I just have thousands of positive memories. Teaching is just awesome."