Friday, January 5, 2018

Welcome To Wins And Losses

Hello everyone!

     My name is Phil Strunk.  I am the writer here at "Wins And Losses," host a podcast also titled Wins And Losses, and try to stay up to date on Twitter @MrPStrunk.

    I am a US History II teacher in Northern Virginia.  My passion for history comes from years of enjoying the subject.  I remember in seventh grade, in Mr. Ford's science class, he asked us all what we wanted to be when we grew up.  I said that I wanted to be a world famous historian (something he later admitted to my parents that he had never heard of).  One of the moments that convinced me I wanted to teach was in my AP European History Class.  Mr. Miller to this day has been one of the most transformative figures of my life.  I remember a particular lesson on the modernization of Russia under Peter the Great.  I imagine in most cases this sort of lesson would put the average high schooler to sleep, but I was captivated by the stories he told.  I was absorbed in and dare I say. . . engaged in the classroom content.  It provided affirmation that I wanted to teach history.

    When I went to college at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, PA, I majored in history with a social studies teaching certification.  My professors continually stoked my passion for the past.  Professor Fea, my department chair, constantly challenged me and helped me grow profoundly as a historian.  He would regularly sit down with me (it was a small school, the main reason I went there was so that my professors would know me not just my name on a paper) and would challenge my thinking, similar to Mr. Miller in high school, Dr. Fea captivated me for the duration of his class and I always left his class incredibly curious about what was going to unfold next.  He is also the only history professor that I took multiple classes with that did not give me straight A's *gasp*.  I still talk to him regularly, he has had a profound impact on my life.  Professor Huffman was my medieval professor.  He started all courses with a contract.  In that contract we were able to choose what grades we wanted, and each grade had a series of tasks and we had the option to choose which ones we wanted to complete, and we also had to score a specific grade on the tests (which he also allowed students to redo).  I appreciated that in his class I did not stress about grades.  I knew that as long as I met the terms of my contract I would get the grade I desired.  This led to me taking risks in that class and trying things I would have not before.  He was also the professor that I asked to work with me independently so that I could receive three additional credits to obtain a concentration in Classical and Medieval European History.

     You'll notice that I put a lot of emphasis on teachers that I have had growing up.  My wife and I are both teachers because we have been inspired by teachers during our lifetime.  The transformative power of educators in the lives of students transcends time.  I have had great school teachers (Sunday School at church, Elementary School, Middle School, High School, College, etc.), but even with these great teachers not every day was a victory.  There were certainly times that I would leave a class frustrated or leave a class just feeling like I didn't "get it."  But I nevertheless believe that despite the wins and losses (oh he said it! he used the title!) that educators go through this job is one of the best jobs on the face of the earth.  My hope is to use this blog as a place for continued reflection and dialogue.  I was challenged and encouraged by my principal to start a podcast and that has opened previously unknown pathways in education, so I am excited to see what blogging will hold.  Thank you for reading, I am excited for what this blog has in store!



  1. Phil, great to see you have started a blog!

  2. You are doing great things Phil. I'm looking forward to seeing your continued growth as an educator!