Humans of Trinity Prep: Mr. Krueger

Julia Orr , Photographer, writer

As Chair of the English department, when you think of Mr. Kreuger you probably think of one thing: books. In this interview, we get a more in-depth look at his other interests, and of course, his opinions on books.

How did you start with the sticker collection?

It’s not much of a collection, there are two.

Do you collect anything?

Not really. I sort of collect bird figures. I have a lot of birds, mainly gifts from students who like birds. It’s like they imposed a collection on me more than of my own venture. I look for birds in the wild and collect species in my head. It is a mind collection.

Do you collect books?

No, I read them then pass them on. I read them then I share them with someone, the library, or a friend. Except for the ones I teach I try to find other audiences for them.

I don’t have a favorite book, it depends on my mood. My least favorite book is tough… I have had “ugh” reactions to book but I don’t know if I have disliked a book before. I had an “ugh” reaction to books I have put down mid-stream. Though I did love Dr. Boerth’s second most recent text collective “How to Make a Mind” and he was a futurist with helped design A.I. I enjoy the topic of artificial intelligence and how minds function. After 100 pages when he gets into the minutia of brain information transfers, I lost focus and I put it down.

Did you always know you were gonna be an English teacher?

I was briefly going to be pre-med. I love science and I love math and a bunch of my family has a medical background. My dad is an orthodontist. In high school, I always liked math and science as much as English and anything else. I did not really have a favorite subject. It was based on who the teacher was. So how engaging they were could shift my viewpoint. I took the early pre-med bio course and the calculus that would lead into it. Then I got a professor who was really engaging with literature and next thing you know I’m an English guy.

Did you go to grad school for literature? I did, I did, I went to a couple different places. I was going to get my Ph.D. at Rice in Houston and I was supposed to stay for six years but after two months I realized that I did not have 6 more years in me. I wanted to go try a profession of some kind and work in some way. I basically took a little hiatus. I coached swimming, I lifeguarded, I waited on tables, I did a hodgepodge of things as I tried to regroup after deciding to not be a professor with a Ph.D. in English. After a year I went to wash-u in st. Louis and I got a MAT which is half master’s and half teaching courses, so that gave me a chance to student teach. Pick up a master’s, hey what’s the harm?

Do you love teaching? Yes of course if I didn’t love it I wouldn’t still be doing it.

Have you ever had a weird job or coworker?

We have all had a weird coworker. There were two things, one I did telemarketing temporarily for sprint and specifically one of their clients was the American bible society and so I was technically selling the word of the lord by listening to people call in. there were a couple of calls that were very intriguing and end of the world sort of stuff – the vast majority of people were wonderful. sometimes you will get people who want to chat with you about random things they didn’t call you for. when I was a kid I volunteered to raise money for the swim team as a kid and it ould go to the state fair with a bunch of guys from our swim team ( I grew up in Jacksonville Illinois near Springfield) I would collect urine samples from thoroughbred horses who had just raced to make sure they weren’t using steroids or anything to change their performance in the race.

How was that?

Well, you get a very large stick and you have a cup at the end and you have to be very patient. not every horse wants to relieve itself immediately. different friends had different strategies, rusty the hay, whistle a bit. I don’t know if I was terribly good at it, it’s good that I stuck with English.

Have you ever had a student cone back to you as a writer? Two weeks ago she came back from Seattle and writes cookbooks and was writing poetry with a cooking theme to it for kids and it’s fun and exciting and she asked for my opinion on it. and its good to see they enjoyed writing then and enjoy it now and you see them transform from writing to Beowulf to fields you could never have suspected like children’s cookbook poetry. you have to connect and communicate clearly and get people inspired with writing.

do you have a favorite book to teach? anything Shakespeare. I love much ado about nothing, midsummer nights dream, Macbeth, student’s will ask questions that give me a new perspective and the more I think, it’s so complex and it’s good every time.