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The Paw Print

News for Wildcats, by Wildcats.

The Paw Print

News for Wildcats, by Wildcats.

The Paw Print

Dr. Bierbaum: A Man of Many Talents

Leah Smolen
Many students know Dr. Bierbaum for his superior teaching skills; however, he is a man of many talents. Here, Dr. Bierbuam is seen playing the didgeridoo, a very unique instrument.

In school, Dr. John Bierbaum teaches 3 different courses, sponsors Model UN, Mock Trial, Asian Heritage Club, and is the chair of the Social Studies department.

The beloved teacher and mentor has been at Normal Community West High School for 19 years and has been spreading his enthusiasm for history and world culture the entire time, so it should come as no surprise that Dr. Bierbaum has many interesting hobbies outside of his work.

“I’ve always been a social studies person. As far as I can remember, I liked history and learning about history. In high school I was trying to find a major that paid me money and allowed me to do what I love, so I became a Social Studies teacher,” Bierbaum states.

Bierbaum specifically finds interest in other cultures and countries.

“When I’m teaching Regional World Studies, I’m always a little bit weary about teaching about other cultures and religions because I haven’t experienced them,” he admits.

However, instead of just continuing that weary feeling, Bierbaum made a goal to go live what he’s teaching. Because of this, Bierbaum traveled to India in his early teaching years to gain more knowledge and experience for himself and his students.

“I was reading a newspaper one time and there was an article saying if you want to go to India call this number, so I called it. I ended up getting interviewed and I got in. When I told my wife about it, she was not happy because she was pregnant at the time, but it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass on. I went for a month,” Bierbaum stated.

While in India, Bierbaum spent time learning and gaining experiences with cultures different from his own.

One way Bierbaum continues to experience other cultures is through instruments.

The didgeridoo is an Australian wind instrument which produces a low, vibrating sound. Bierbaum keeps one on hand in his classroom closet.

“Like a lot of people, for me, Australia was always that exotic place that everyone wanted to go. I was at a Renaissance Festival, and a person had a didgeridoo, so I knew I had to have one,” he states.

He bought one that day for around $100 dollars, and it hasn’t left his side since. Although being an amateur, Bierbaum holds great pride and passion for his instrument.

With so many hobbies and activities going on in school, it seems it would be impossible for Bierbaum to do much not related to work.

Fortunately, though, Bierbaum always makes time for something else that he loves: listening to court cases.

“I listen to Oyez court cases during most of my free time, like when I drive my son to hockey practices,” Bierbaum admits.

Over the summer, Bierbaum also spends time away from his desk in the great outdoors.

“During summer, I help out with my brother’s landscaping business, I hedge trim. I have a crew and we go around and trim just about everything,” Bierbaum admits.

Normal Community West High School is grateful to have such a dedicated teacher who shows students that you can turn your passion into a career while also exploring other “unique” hobbies!

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