About Mr. Van

I think I’ll use some photos to introduce myself.


I was born many years ago in St. Augustine. I was adopted by a young couple who lived there. My family didn’t stay around for long, though. We moved quite a few times. My parents, younger brother, and I lived in several different cities in North Carolina (most notably Charlotte),  as well as Atlanta, Valdosta, and Gainesville, Ga. During that time, I played youth sports and developed a love for reading.

After high school, I went to the University of Alabama and earned my degree in Elementary Education. I was lucky enough to see Paul “Bear” Bryant coach his final season during my freshman year. After moving so much as a child, I decided to settle down in Tuscaloosa, staying for the next 24 years. The definite highlight of my time there was meeting my wife, Vicky. She is also an Alabama alumnus and we are both rabid fans of the Crimson Tide, as my students find out pretty quickly. (Don’t worry, though. I’ve had and tolerated Florida, FSU, Tennessee, and even Auburn fans in my room.) I missed the ocean, though, and we finally moved back to Florida in 2006. It was my good fortune to get a teaching job at Jacksonville Beach Elementary. Vicky teaches at Mandarin High School.

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Vicky and I like to travel, especially on cruises. We love the water and enjoy spending as much time there as possible. You’ll notice I haven’t posted a picture of her here. That’s because I would be in huge trouble if I did. So, you’ll have to settle for a photo taken by her of me on a Caribbean beach during one of our vacations. In addition to hanging out near a beach, I like to spend my leisure time reading and watching Alabama football.


While we don’t have any children, Vicky and I both love dogs. After losing our longtime pet basset hound, Tipper, in 2013, we waited about a year before deciding that it was time to welcome another puppy into our home. Our Yorkie, Gracie, is four years old now and absolutely spoiled rotten. By the way, she also dons Crimson Tide apparel during football season.

I had an amazing life experience earlier this year. As I wrote earlier, I was adopted at birth. Well, a couple of years ago I took a DNA test to see my ethnic heritage and find out if there were any relatives around. In April, I received a response from an aunt who lives in Jacksonville! She quickly put me in touch with my birth parents, who live just outside of San Francisco. Within a couple of weeks, they flew here and we reunited for the first time in more than five decades. Since then, I’ve gone to California to meet my three sisters and their families. They’ve all been incredibly kind, loving, and accepting. I truly have a new family and they’re absolutely wonderful!

I love teaching at Jacksonville Beach Elementary School. Working with students who strive to learn, interacting with parents who take a positive active role in their child’s education, and collaborating with professionals who love the art of teaching has been a joy. From teaching math and science to working with the school play to fulfilling fundraising pledges by dressing in Batman (or Superman!) pajamas, it’s been a pleasure to work at JBE these past twelve years. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Mr. Van

P.S. It was even fun getting taped to the wall last year! Should we do it again this spring?


Now that you know a bit about me, I’d like to know a little about you. For this week’s homework, you need to do the following: 1) show you know how to leave a comment about what you’ve just read by doing so in the space below (your comment won’t post until I approve it), then 2) click on the homework page link and complete the questions. This assignment is due Thursday night (August 16).

Click here for the homework page.

78 thoughts on “About Mr. Van

  1. I liked your story and I can’t wait to spend the year with you. My Dad just found his mom and family also. I got to meet my Grandma the Sunday before school started.

  2. Hey Mr.Van, I know we have already started but I am so exited to be in your class again.We had such a great year last year, I wonder what this year will bring . I also am glad you found your real family.

  3. I am looking forward to being in your class all my friends said you were amazing. I am sure that i will love you. You are amazing.

  4. Mr.Van,
    I’ve really enjoyed being in your class so far this year. I know you’re an Alabama fan but I think the Gators rule!! Looking forward to a fun year!

  5. Mr. Van I am so excited to be in your class this year. Thank you for sharing your life time experiences with us. I also have a dog named Mel she is a cavachon and I love to play with her 😄😄😄😄🐶🐶🐶

  6. Being in your class feels like i’m doing 4th grade all over again, I know it’s going to be a great year! I am so excited to be in your class Mr. Van!

  7. Mr.Van I am so happy that you found and got reunited with your parents !!!
    I am so exited to be in your class again !

  8. Thank you for allowing the class to know more about you. I would have never known that you have been through so many things, if you had not been courteous enough to tell all of us students about you.

  9. Hi, Mr.Van I am really happy that I got to know you and I liked your batman and pirate costumes. I hope this year is the best year yet!

  10. Hi Mr Van,
    When I found out that you were my teacher I was so excited to have you a 2nd year. I was also surprised that you moved up to 5th grade. I was reading the paper that said what teachers I had and I said,” OK so Mrs Talor, Mrs Brothers, and MR VAN!?!?!?!?!?” I was so confused. Then my mom’s like Mr Van moved up to 5th grade, so then it made sense.(But I could have probably figured out that myself, but who cares. Right?)

    P.S I think that it is cool that you are adopted because my sister is too!

  11. Mr Van that is interesting and exciting that you found your birth parents even though you are adopted. I look forward to being in your class. I loved being in your switch class last year!!!!!

  12. hey Mr.Van i am so happy you got reunited with your family i am so happy to have a male teacher this year i also heard you are really great also your dog is adorable i have a sister who acts like dog.

  13. Hi Mr. Van,

    I’m so glad you found your birth parents. Now I’ve already gotten to know you a lot. I also think we should tape you to the wall again.

  14. Hi Mr. Van!!!!😀🦄🦄 l am very happy to be in your class!!!!! A lot of people that l know have told me you are an amazing teacher and apparently they were right!! Oh, by the way, l also think we should duct tape you to the wall and have an electronics day at the end of the year!!🦄🦄🤙👍🏼🐶🐶🐶😎💩💩💩

  15. Thank your for sharing this story about yourself Mr Van. I am excited to have you as my teacher for 5th grade Science. My brother Andrew said ‘you’re going to like Mr. Van’. See you in class this week.

  16. I think that it is an amazing thing that you met your birth family. I also have a pet. She is a rabbit and her name is Mercy. Your dog is very cute. I am super exited to be in your switch class again.

  17. Hi Mr.Van!! I am so excited to be in your class again all of my siblings are very happy that the Scioscia family lives on! Also my dogs names are Penny and Spencer. Goose!!

  18. Hello Mr.Van I found your story interesting you are lucky you met your birth parents I was one of the people to duct tape and it was so fun

  19. Hi Mr. Van! I enjoyed reading about your bio. I also like to go on cruises. I went on a cruise around the Baltic sea this summer! I cant wait to be in your class!

  20. Mr.Van I really liked your story. I look forward to being in your class this year. My brother Andrew says ”Mr. Van is a great teacher you will really like him.”

  21. Hi Mr.Van I liked having you as my switch teacher last year and I am excited to have you as my switch teacher again. Thank you for sharing about your life experiences that was pretty awesome. Happy Football season.

  22. Hello again Mr. Van! I’m really looking forward to being in your class (again!) I really think we should do the duct tape to the wall thing again this year. It was hilarious last year!

  23. Hey Mr.Van,
    Hope to see you again! I am so excited to go to fifth grade with you as my teacher! I think it’s so cool that you are adopted and that you met your birth parents.

  24. Hi Mr. Van,

    Thank you for sharing a little more about yourself. I am excited to start my 5th grade year with you. I bet Gracie is super cute in her Alabama attire, but I think she would look even better in Green Bay packer gear! (Go, Pack, Go!) 😉


    1. Hi, Riley! Gracie is really cute in her Bama clothes, but I can’t say that she enjoys wearing them. Packers??? I think she’d insist on a Jags outfit.

  25. Hi Mr.Van,
    I found your story really interesting . I also am super excited to be in your class. We should tape you to the wall again that was hilarious.

    1. Thanks, Max. I’m really glad to have you in my class again. And the votes keep piling up for another year of duct-taping!

  26. Hi Mr.Van, my name is Keya and this will be my first year at JBE. I am happy to be in your switch class! I loved knowing your story.See you on Friday at orientation! Thank you.

    1. Hi, Keya and welcome to JBE! I’m so glad you’re here and know that you’ll have a great year. I’m looking forward to meeting you tomorrow!

  27. Hi Mr. Van. I am really happy to be in your switch class this year! I have heard great things about you from all of my friends,especially Clementine. I think it is very interesting that you tested your DNA and found your birth family. I think we should duct tape you to the wall this year!

    1. Hi, Ella! It’s really nice of your friends to say kind things about me. We’re going to have a fun time in science class this year!
      I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you get your chance to duct tape me again this year. Lots of people seem to want the chance to do that to me one more time!

  28. Hey Mr. Van, I found it very interesting that you found your relatives after 50 years! I cannot wait to be in your class this year.

    1. Thank you, Jonas. Finding my family has definitely been one of the most interesting times of my life. And we’re going to have a great school year!

  29. Hi my name is Joshua. I can’t wait to go back to school and be in your science class. I am sorry about Tipper. I find your story very interesting and I can’t wait to meet you.

    1. Hello, Joshua. I’m glad you’re excited about school this year. I am, too! And thanks for thinking about Tipper. I still miss her.

  30. I am so excited to have you as a teacher again. Your story of how you found your birth family was very interesting. I look forward to this school year. ROLL TIDE!

    1. It’s good to hear from you, Jack! I hope you had a great summer. And it’s almost football season! Roll Tide!

  31. I think your story is very interesting and inspirational! You really have an extraordinary background! I am excited to meet you (even though I am an FSU fan).

    1. Thanks, Alysa! I’m looking forward to meeting you, too. It’s OK with me that you’re an FSU fan. It would be boring if everyone liked the same team.

    1. Hello, Blair! Thanks for your kind comment. I’m looking forward to learning all about you, as well. I hope to see you on Friday!

  32. Hi Mr. Van!!!!

    I am sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo glad to have you again!! I have you for science. See you in 5th grade!!!!

      1. I’m happy that I’ll be your teacher again, Victoria! It’s OK to not be an Alabama fan. It’ll be fun when our teams play this year.

  33. Hi Mr.Van
    I am very exited to start 5th grade
    Also can we duct tape you to the wall again
    It was very amusing last year

    1. Hi, Aarohi! I’m pretty sure that duct taping me to the wall will become an annual fundraising event, so you’ll probably get the chance to do it again.

  34. Hi Mr. Van,
    I am really happy to be in your class this year!

    I found your story really inspiring about how you found your birth family. Also, I enjoyed reading about you. I feel it has thoroughly let us get to know you better.

    I cannot wait to see what we learn this year in fifth grade! I am really excited to see all my new classmates.

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