Walking into his classroom, he sets his bag down on his desk. He takes out a binder that says “teaching is fun,” which fully embodies him, and soon gets to work.
Chemistry teacher Matthew Gunderson has been a teacher at Huntley High School for nearly two years. Last year, Huntley needed another Physics teacher and he volunteered to fill the role, but this year he teaches his preferred subject, Chemistry.
“I originally expected that I was going to be teaching Biology,” Gunderson said. “But plans changed. Huntley High School needed somebody for Physics, and I had some previous experience teaching Physics so I said, ‘Sure, why not?’ It’s science, I’m teaching!”
Gunderson taught Physics for one year in the 2016-2017 school year and loved it. He also had quite the memorable experience last year all due to a casual idea thrown out by a student.
“I was growing my hair out and I do it every day,” he said. “A student said, ‘How about you shave it all off?’ St. Baldrick’s was coming up, and I was not on a team but I supported the cause and I wanted to help in any way I can.”
Gunderson made a deal with the students: if his tweet received at least 500 retweets in the next two days, he would follow through with it.
“I knew that he made the deal to shave his head, and I was actually in the class that made the deal,” sophomore Lauren Rich said. “I knew the post would get enough retweets.”
And she was right, the Twitter post received well over the 500 tweet requirement after only one day. Soon, Gunderson shaved his head at St. Baldrick’s and stayed true to his word.
While the shaving of his head was a common knowledge shared by all of his Physics students, there is one thing that most people do not know about him at all: last summer, he was close to being a part of a show called “Married at First Sight” that was filming in Chicago. It was season five of the show, and it just finished up in the spring.
“A little over a year ago, last summer, I [went through] auditions and callbacks,” Gunderson said. “I made it through to the final decision where I was potentially going to get a phone call saying, ‘Hey you are getting married next week.’ I picked out the arrangements, I picked out the guests, I picked out everything. But I found out August 1 that I was not getting married, and the weddings were August 6, 7, and 8.”
Although he was not selected to – as the TV show name implies – “get married at first sight,” Gunderson thinks it was for the best.
“It was a good experience but I am kind of glad it did not happen, because now I know more about myself and I know what I want in the future with starting a family,” said Gunderson.
Most students do not know that this teacher has these underlying experiences of meaning and fun in his past, but he is very content with how everything has played out up to this point.