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. For 2018/2019, 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). 

As we all know, during the last school year our time showing up physically at JBE was cut short. Because of this, my class (and many others in the school) didn’t get a chance to receive their incentives. Because of this, I don’t have a lot of new photos to share with you. We did take one set of me in unicorn PJs, but missed out on the rest. They were disappointed about that.

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 six years old now and absolutely spoiled rotten. By the way, she also dons Crimson Tide apparel during football season.

I recently had an amazing life experience. 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 fourteen years. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Mr. Van

P.S. It was even fun getting taped to the wall the past three years! I hope we can 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 Sunday night (August 23).

Click here for the homework page.

101 thoughts on “About Mr. Van

  1. Hi Mr.Van I am so happy to have you as my teacher. From what i have heard you are a great teacher wait never mind, you are amazing.

  2. I am very excited to be in your class this year! We were able to toilet paper and shaving cream you last year during the fund run.

  3. I am so happy that i got into your class Mr.Van and i am so excited to be learning science and social studies with you!!

  4. Hi Mr.Van I really love being in your class. I can’t believe you were adopted at birth and you and me loveee dogs. I can’t be more happier to have you as my teacher.

    Thank You,







    1. Thanks, Ananya! I’m excited to be your teacher! Aren’t dogs great? Gracie loves having me at home. She stays in my lap all day long.

  5. Hi Mr Van. I’m reeeeeaaaaallly exited for Fifth Grade! Thank you for sharing your story. I hope you and your family are doing well.

    1. I’m glad you liked it, Evan! I’ve done it three years in a row now, so I’m hoping we can make it four in a row.

  6. Hey Mr. Van. I am really excited for this school year. Just so you know I am a huge Virginia sports fan. I’m excited to have you as my teacher.

    1. Hi, Connor! I’d love to talk some ACC sports with you. I lived in North Carolina when I was a kid and became a rabid UNC basketball fan. I’ve also been told that you like the New orleans Saints. Is that true?

  7. Thank you for sharing information about yourself Mr. Van. I am really exited to be in your class this year. Go Big Blue!

    1. Hi Kody!

      I’m glad you’re in my class this year, too! And Alabama plays Kentucky this year in football (I hope)!

  8. hello Mr. Van i am so sorry i have answered late i have been somewhere, i am so excited to be in you’re class!

  9. Hello Mr. Van ,
    I am so thrilled to join your class. After reading about you I am even more excited and looking forward to start this year with you.

  10. Hello Mr. Van! I loved your presentation! I can’t wait to see you in the online orientation. I look forward to seeing you this year.

    WAR EAGLE, Judson

    1. Hi, Judson! It sounds like we’ll have some football to discuss this year. I had an Auburn fan in my room a few years ago and we had a lot of fun talking sports.

  11. Hi Mr.Van I had a fantastic time reading about you. Also I can’t wait till we see each other, on the computer.

  12. Hi I am very excited to be in your class this year. My brother Max really enjoyed your class and I think I will to.

    1. It’s great to have you in my class, Sam! I think we’ll have a really good time this year. I hope Max is doing well.

  13. I am so excited to be in your class this year. I love science!!! i am looking forward to seeing you in unicorn pajamas!

    1. I love science too, Saira! I’m going to do my best to make our virtual science class interesting and fulfilling. I’m sure you’ll get the chance to see me in those unicorn PJs before long!

    1. Hello, Adithi! This will be an exciting and fun year! I’m glad you enjoyed my story and I’m looking forward to hearing about you.

  14. Hello Mr. Van!
    I am so excited to go into fifth grade! I know it will be a great experience as well as a new thrill. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Vincent! Since I’m going to be teaching from home for a while, I’ll be happy to let you see Gracie every now and then. She’s going to be very excited that I’m able to stay home with her all day.

  15. Hi Mr. Van My name is Akhil. I think it is nice of you to be open and showing your life and experience to us!!!!!!!!!!!


    1. Hello, Akhil! I really think it makes school better for all of us if we get to know each other. I’m looking forward to hearing more about you.

  16. It is great to know more about you and I am looking forward to being in your class! 😄

    P.S. My class got to TP and shaving cream you last year! 🧻

    1. Hello, Kashvi! I’m happy to be your teacher this year. I remember getting TPed and shaving creamed by your class last year. If you want, I have some photos of it that I can share with everyone. And maybe you’ll get the chance to do it again this year!

  17. Wow! You have a very interesting life, I can’t wait to start school with all my friends and teachers.

  18. Hi Mr. Van: My name is Ardyn, Addison’s sister. I have heard a lot about your class from her and looking forward to having fun in your class. I love that you got to meet your family! Family is super important!

    1. Thanks for telling me your story. Even though some of my friends aren’t in my class I’m really excited to be in your class.

      1. 😄 Hi Mr.Van I really enjoyed reading about your history!!!
        I am so excited to be in your class this year!

        P.S Some of my friends were in your class last year

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