By Maria Ruiz

There’s a little red car in the parking lot and out of that steps Ryan Kearney. A lanky, Ecuadorian-Irish man, Kearney has both arms filled with tattoos, and he sports some short black hair.

Kearney teaches American Government, Psych, and AP Psych at Union High School. Kearney is the new hip teacher in town that Union students love to be around. The students really enjoy Kearney, not only as a teacher, but a friend. Kearney came from a suburban area in Chicago and taught at a private school before coming to Union. Kearney has a family of two children and a wife.

“It’s a lot of work, the kind of work that doesn’t stop when you get home. I spend a lot of time here caring about kids making sure they are pointed in the right direction, and when I get home, I do the same thing, they’re all technically mine, there is a lot of pressure, I want to get it right and I want to make sure everyone gets the good side of me,” Kearney said.

Kearney puts in a lot of time with his students and, he uses WIN time to help students in need. He wants his students to be comfortable with him and be able to talk to him about anything, not just about school. He enjoys the students opening up to him and having good communication with them. Union is a different environment from Kearney’s last school, a private Catholic high school.

“UHS is not a religious environment, we don’t have the religious side of it. It’s a little bit more open minded; it’s not all tied to only Catholicism. I was surprised the makeup of students are different than it was, in term of occupations and backgrounds, that’s been an adjustment. If you just talk to the students, they will open up and let you inside of their world,” Kearney said.

Kearney found that leaving a suburban private school and coming to a rural public school, was not a big transition. Kearney enjoys the freedom that Union Community School District gives him, especially for teaching.
“I enjoy being here at Union, I enjoy the teaching, and I enjoy the connection I have with the students. I hope they realize I’m invested in them beyond the fifty-eight minutes I have with them in class. I enjoy my colleagues, the support I have from them is great, not just in my department but my wing around here. The community is nice. It’s laid back for the most part. People here are really nice; I’ve gotten a lot of help when needed. It’s been a very comforting place to be,” Kearney said.