About Mr. Van

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

First of all, why all the pictures of me in silly pajamas? A few years ago, I was trying to inspire my class to get excited about the school fundraiser. One of their favorite ideas was having me wear Batman pajamas and, to be even funnier, I should go shoeless. “Barefoot Batman” was how they described the incentive. We easily reached our goal that year and a tradition was born! Batman proved to be popular for the next couple of years. Two years ago, Superman was added to the outfits. And last year, with many of the same kids for the second year in a row, they wanted new outfits: panda, unicorn, Dory, Tennessee Vols, and a Florida Gator (I’m an Alabama fan). Who knows what this year will bring?

You’ll probably see pictures of me in a Batman outfit in several places throughout the year. I do this as a reminder that, even though we will work hard this year, we’ll also have fun. With all the stress that school can bring, I think it’s important that you remember that your teacher is willing to do just about anything to make learning easier. So, when you see me in that silly outfit, take a breath, relax, and remember to smile!


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 scuba diving, 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 five 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 last 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 of 2018, 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 several times to meet and get to know 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 silly pajamas (and getting wrapped in TP and hit with shaving cream), it’s been a pleasure to work at JBE these past thirteen years. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Mr. Van

P.S. It was even fun getting taped to the wall the past two years! 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 15).

Click here for the homework page.

93 thoughts on “About Mr. Van

  1. Mr.van I loved learning more about you and now I am exited to be in your switch class this year doing fun things with you and learning more in science and in social studies. P.S Your dog looks just like one of my dogs small bean.

  2. Hi, this is Lorianna! I really enjoyed reading your story. I think thiis will be a fun and exciting year! I think your dog is the cutest!

  3. Hi Mr. Van! I’m really excited to be in your class this year. I think we are going to have a blast. Cool story about finding your birth parents this past year!

  4. Hi Mr. Van! I am really happy to be in your class this year! I also loved how you met your parents in the end of your story.

  5. Hi Mr. Van, I love your life story. It’s so interesting! I think it’s cool that you found your birth parents. I really love science and am excited that you will be my homeroom teacher. I’m looking forward to a having a fun year with you.

    P.S, I love your dog, she is so cute!

  6. Hello Mr.Van I LOVE your dog and yes we should continue with the stickers. I enjoy reading your story.You should wear an Alabama onesie!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Hi Mr. Van! I’m Kole and I’m very exited to have another science homeroom teacher! Unfortunately I am not a huge fan of Alabama (FSU), but I’ll be fine.

  8. Hi Mr.Van It’s Nidhish and i’m so excited to be in your class this year. Your life story was so interesting and i’m glad you got to meet your real parents in the end.

  9. Hi this is Carly. I am a student in your class. I remember you getting taped sideways to the wall. I think we should come up with an interesting different way to do it this year.

  10. Hi I Mr.Van I am cassandra and I am so excited to be in your class. I can’t what to spend the whole year with you and to be a 5th grader.

  11. Hi Mr.Van, this is Chloe. Your childhood story was stupendous . I am happy that you found your birth parents. I am very excited to be in your class this year.

  12. Hi Mr. Van, I am happy to be in your class! I really like science. It was cool that you got to meet your real parents last year!

  13. Hi Mr.Van, this is Merritt. It was really interesting to read all about your life and it is great to be in your class this year.

  14. Hello Mr.Van I LOVE science, so I am excited for you to be my homeroom teacher. I think it is cool that you found your birth parents. By the way, your dog is really cute. I am super excited to be in your class this year!!!

  15. hey Mr.Van! Its Morgan! I read that you were a scuba diver, I just got certified over the summer and have been to Mexico and Key West for scuba diving! I’m glad we have something in common!

  16. I don’t know much about the teachers at JBE because I just got in the lottery this year, and now I got to know you better! I think your dog is really cute!

  17. Hi Mr. Van,
    I loved reading about your life today! Now I know so much more about you! I can’t wait to learn more about you!

  18. Hi Mr. Van!
    I am excited to find out what we will be doing this year. I am obsessed with dogs and Gracie is unbelievably adorable!!!

  19. Hi Mr Van! This is Savannah. I think this year will be awesome. I thought it was super cool how you were adopted. And you dog is VERY cute. I look forward to a very exciting year.

  20. Hi Mr. Van, I loved your life story! It was amazing how you could meet your birth parents. I think your yorkie is adorable! I am so glad to be in your class this year.

  21. Hi Mr. Van,
    I’m excited to be in your class this year and I enjoyed reading about your life. See you tomorrow!
    Jack Henry

  22. Hi Mr.Van!! It is Cohen and I was so mad you moved to 5 grade last year but I am happy I am in your class this year. P.S I was born in Charlotte North Carolina!

    1. Hi, Cohen: I’m really happy to have you in my class this year! I have some fond memories of my time in Charlotte. Did you live there long?

    1. Hello, Tanner: I’m really excited about this school year! I think we’re going to learn a lot and have plenty of fun.

    1. Hi, Sam! It takes a lot for me to wear something as distressing as Florida Gator clothing. Maybe by the end of the year, you’ll realize that you’d be much better off wearing Crimson Tide colors!

      I think we’re going to have lots of fun talking football this season!

  23. Hi Mr. Van…I’m Madison and I am excited to be in your Science class this year. Your dog is adorable. I have a dog named Snickers and he is spoiled too. 😀

  24. Hi Mr.Van, my name is Grishma. Your childhood story was amazing. I am happy that you found your birth parents. I am very excited to be in your class this year.

  25. Hi, Mr. Van it`s Kingston, I thought your life story was interesting, I am looking forward to meeting you soon!

  26. Hello Mr.Van this is Sai. I can’t believe how many places you have traveled. It must have been fun wearing so many pajamas. I am excited to be in your class this year.

    1. Hello, Sai! I love to travel! How about you? I’m glad you’re in my class. Science is going to be lots of fun this year!

  27. Hi, Mr. Van! It was very interesting learning about your life before you were a teacher. I’m excited to be in your class this year! (Your yorkie is adorable!)

    1. Hi, Sonakshi! Thanks for reading! I’m looking forward to getting to know more about you. And Gracie says, “Hi”!

    1. Hello Mr.Van! I’m Layah and i’m excited to be in your class this year. Your story is amazing and inspiring. I am glad you finally got to meet your parents. See you on Friday!

  28. Hi Mr.Van, it was so interesting to hear about you being adopted when you were just a baby and that a couple of years ago you took a DNA test and you found your aunt and your aunt led you to your birth parents. What an awesome story! I am very excited to have you this year and to have some fun!

    1. Thanks, Cheyenne! It’s been very exciting and rewarding to meet my birth family. I’m happy to be your science teacher!

    2. Hi Mr. Van I am Krisha. I am excited to be in your class this year. I enjoyed reading about your life and your dog is super cute.

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