by Angela Guo
It’s a Wednesday morning, and English teacher Matt Ridenour is passing out a vocabulary test to his second period class. A few students turn to each other to ask one another for the date.
“Shh!” Ridenour says. “Quiet, you little cheaters!”
Freshman Remy Rossi, who is in Ridenour’s second period class, explained that Ridenour is just joking.
“He has that smirk that he does, a jovial smirk,” said Rossi. “Then he turns around and just goes back to whatever he’s doing.”
Ridenour started teaching at Las Lomas in 2009 after teaching at Campolindo for three years. Students enjoy his teaching style and his sense of humor.
Junior Riley Loventhal has had Ridenour for English 1 and English 3.
“His classes are usually pretty interesting,” Loventhal said. “He cracks jokes here and there to make them more entertaining.”
Ridenour said he incorporates humor into his lessons as a teaching tool.
“Sometimes the subject matter can get pretty dry and boring,” Ridenour said. “So it helps keep students focused…”
Junior Stephanie Tittle, who also has had Ridenour for English 1 and 3, said that freshmen don’t understand his humor.
“He has a very dry humor that you have to get used to,” Tittle said. “One time I went to take a test during his sixth period freshmen class, and he was just making all these jokes. His T.A.’s a junior too, and we were the only two that could understand. The freshmen were just like, ‘I don’t get it.’”
Ridenour’s jokes are not lost on all of his freshmen. Freshman Michael Lutzker, who has Ridenour for English 1, enjoys Ridenour’s amusing reactions to students’ antics.
“One time, I brought my Mickey Mouse hand and put it on in class,” Lutzker said. “He was like, ‘What—what are you doing?’ when I started trying to write with the hand on.”
Lutzker thinks Ridenour is a “really dope teacher” who “has lots of swag.” He also said that Ridenour is “very opinionated” and has a “unique sense of fashion.”
Lutzker is quite fond of Ridenour—so fond, in fact, that he has dedicated a number of poems to him.
“One time, I wrote a poem about him called ‘Mr. Ridenour Is Such a Wild Flower,’” Lutzker said. “He sort of flipped out on that one. I continued writing more poems about him, and Mr. Ridenour was like, ‘I can tell Michael has nothing to do in his free time besides writing poems about me.’”
Although Ridenour teased Lutzker about the poems, he admitted that Lutzker is creative and has talent as a poet.
Ridenour noted that it’s important to know who is okay with a bit of teasing.
“I think everybody has their own quirks,” he said. “Some students are okay with their quirks coming out, and they kind of own it, but then some students obviously are uncomfortable about that.”
Ridenour said he wants students to develop critical thinking.
“Especially with the juniors, I want them to challenge the way they look at things, and make sure that if they have certain beliefs, they know why they believe that and don’t just believe it because it’s what their parents or friends believe,” he said.
Ridenour enjoys being able to interact with 150 people daily, but his favorite part of teaching is seeing students improve throughout the year.
“Seeing students make strides—I think that’s the best thing,” said Ridenour. “Sometimes the students come in struggling, but by the end of the year, they’ve really grown a lot.”
Loventhal said that Ridenour has helped him improve his essay writing skills.
“He gives you re-writes and he makes sure you really know what you’re doing wrong and what you’re doing right,” Loventhal said. “I think that will help a lot with college essays next year.”
Ridenour decided to be a teacher when he had a college professor who was extremely passionate about English.
Before becoming a teacher, he wanted to be a coach.
“I used to coach cross country and track and field,” Ridenour said. “You can’t make a living as a high school coach, so I thought I’d be a teacher to make enough money and still be a ‘coach.’”