Mark VonKennell enters 41st year of teaching at Fort Frye High School

Published: Aug. 28, 2020 at 6:30 PM EDT
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The first week of classes at Fort Frye High School marked the 41st year that language arts teacher Mark VonKennell has walked through the doors to teach students every day.

Mark graduated from Ohio University, and he knew he wanted to be a teacher back when he was in high school.

When he was interviewing for jobs initially after graduation, he says Fort Frye was the only school, at the time, to offer him a teaching job. He accepted it, and the rest is history.

He was never sure that it would be his plan to stay with the Fort Frye community for 41 years, but it just so happened he was able to start his family, which kept him around.

“You put down roots, (and) you start to feel like you belong to a community,” said VonKennell. “I got married, we bought a house, we had a child, and, you find yourself anchored to where you’re at.”

He says he has no regrets about staying in Washington County for all this time.

He says the relationships he has built with people are the biggest reason he has been able to be motivated to teach every year.

“People that I’ve had in class, and the people that have been my colleagues,” Mark said. “Various parents that you have really good relationships with all of those different constituencies. I wouldn’t pick out just one, because there are so many.”

Being in the same community for 41 years, you start to notice families that stick around, and Mark says that he is now starting to see students whose parents also were in his class in the past. He called his classroom “an institution,” and people continue to recognize him across the community.

When asked what his future holds, VonKennell would not be willing to give an answer to that.

“I’m keeping that a secret,” he said.

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