by Lorie Lewis Ham
Teachers are probably one of the biggest influences in our lives early on. They can help you find your path, inspire you, help you get through a difficult class, and teach you lessons that will help you as an adult. Yet most never get the praise and recognition they deserve. Here in KRL we like to feature some of those special teachers and educators that make a difference in our local schools.
Physics and biology teacher Dan Deibert has been teaching at Reedley High School for 20 years, and has touched the lives of many. Before coming to RHS, he taught for seven years at General Grant Middle School, and he has also taught some evening classes at Reedley College.
Born and raised in Southern California, Dan developed an interest in insects as a teen and went on to study entomology at UC Davis, where he earned his BS. He then earned an MS, also in entomology, from UC Riverside in 1979. While at Davis, Dan met Laurel and they were married in 1980. They moved to Reedley for him to work in agriculture. “I worked at Goldendale Greenhouses in Reedley for several years. It was several years after college that I realized that I would enjoy teaching. I never thought of it before then. I now have three daughters, two of whom are [also] teachers.”
It was a friend who suggested to Dan that he might enjoy teaching. He has never looked back, and doesn’t have any plans of retiring in the near future. “I believe God led me to this job. I can help others and I really enjoy what I do every day.”
The two things Dan loves most about teaching are the students and the subject. “I like meeting new students and helping them to experience the amazing world around them. Every student is unique. It is enjoyable getting to know them even if for a short period of time. Learning science, or any other topic, fascinates me. There is so much to think about and I want to learn as much as I can about as many topics as I can.
“My favorite part of teaching is when a student tells me about some thing that they saw some place out of class that reminded them of what they studied in class. When they start making connections between what they do all day at school and what they see in the real world, it makes all the hard work worthwhile. I love to see students applying their amazing brains to the fascinating world around them.”
Dan believes that it is important for students to develop a hunger for thinking about the world around them. Education isn’t just about getting good grades so you can get into a good college or get a good job. “Education should be about learning as much as you can about as many things as you possibly can. The world is full of amazing things that God has provided for us to think about. This is what makes life exciting. The more you think about a topic, the more you find to think about. Every topic is very deep. Education is about learning how to think about these things. All classes should be fascinating. All topics should be interesting. God has given us an amazing place to live and an amazing brain to think about it. I want my students to realize this. That is why I teach.”
When you talk to Dan’s students, you see that he is succeeding in his desires as a teacher. “As a teacher, Deibert had, and still has, the ability to grace a classroom with his insurmountable knowledge and his humility at the same time,” shared former RHS student DJ Reimer. “The ability to share so much wisdom and yet be so down to earth is what makes Deibert such a popular and respected teacher. I still remember his lessons in college!”
“Mr. Deibert is the kind of person that notices and appreciates the little things that others miss and likes to share his knowledge to help others not just understand, but enjoy it,” shared a current student of Dan’s, Eli Bonami.
Dan’s passion and dedication is also obvious to his coworkers. “Mr. Deibert is an engaging teacher,” said RHS Principal Rodney Cisneros. “He provides hands-on experiences for his students and gives them an opportunity to learn by discovery.”
“Dan has contributed a great deal to the RHS community over the years in terms of being an exceptional mentor and role model to all who have had the opportunity to work with and/or observe him,” stated fellow RHS Science teacher Kirby Kauk. “He is a devoted family man who exudes character, honesty, dedication, and excellence in all that he does. The obvious commitment he has to his family, his students, his colleagues, and his faith is truly admirable.”
Former student Lesley Gates, who now teaches at RHS as well, remembers most Dan’s passion for science. “I remember him always asking us questions to make us think about science on a deeper level and to really appreciate the wonders of science. And now, many years later, Dan is still encouraging students to think deeper and to develop a passion for science. It is an honor to now be a colleague with Dan. I hope that I can have an impact on my biology students like I know he has!”
A typical work day for Dan starts at 7 a.m. preparing for class. He teaches four different classes which makes for a busy day. He also teaches a night class at Reedley College two nights a week. When he has time, he enjoys walking, working in his garden and woodworking. He also enjoys cross-country hiking and skiing.
Not only does Dan want his students to become passionate about science, but he hopes that they will develop a sense of compassion and understanding for other people. “We all need to learn to think of others more than ourselves. A lot of time education seems to be about a person learning so that they can improve their own life. I believe we need to remind ourselves that true success is helping other people – not just ourselves. This is not usually a lesson we teach in class, but we all teach it to one another by our actions. I hope that my students learn a little about this from me. ”
You can more profiles of local educators in KRL’s Education section.