Get to Know Pt. 1: Mr. Po
Updated: Jul 26
Mr. Pogreba has quickly become a favorite teacher at Parker. His humor, knowledge, and genuine care for students has helped him find a home in our community. In addition to rocking distinct outfits and using the word “riveting” in every other sentence, Mr. Po allowed us to interview him and find out more about his life. If you’re searching for some advice as a high schooler or want to know Po’s favorite concert of all time, check out the interview below!
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Shelby, and then moved to Laurel—both of which are in Montana.
Did you play any sports in highschool?
I played football for about 9 days, it just wasn’t for me. I played sports when I was younger, but then I kinda switched over to debate and being a difficult person.
What has your favorite thing about Hawai’i been so far?
Definitely Parker School. I can honestly say it’s been really great teaching here. I haven’t had much of a chance to explore the island yet, but so far it has been a really great change of pace.
How did you know you wanted to teach at Parker?
When I came up for the interview last February or March, right away I just loved the atmosphere of the school. The engagement in classes and the way students interacted with one another between classes and weren’t just staring at their phones all day all contributed to a really great vibe.
Are there any similarities or differences between your high school experience at what you witness of high schoolers here at Parker?
Well… first of all we had a lot more Def Leppard and Journey and REO Speedwagon. I would also say back then we had more mullets and fluorescent pink. But it’s interesting, I think school has changed less than people think it has since I was a student. Technology obviously changes some of the delivery methods, but American schools haven’t fundamentally changed in many ways. My experience was in a small town about the size of Waimea and at a public school, so there was definitely a wide range of abilities in my classmates that I don’t really see here.
What has been the biggest challenge teaching in the days of Covid-19?
I think the biggest challenge was definitely last Spring when we weren’t physically seeing students. I think one of the jobs of a teacher is to not just teach content, but talk to kids and make sure they are doing okay emotionally and see what's up in their lives. Covid teaching makes that harder. Sometimes I tease students, and when we are in person it’s easy to gauge if that’s appropriate during the given scenario. When everything is online, however, it’s difficult to tell if someone is having a difficult day and know to maybe not make fun of them while they are struggling.
What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to?
It was U2 in Paris at the national stadium. 65,000 people were there and I was like eight rows from the band. The Edge and I— we connected!
What kind of music genre do you currently listen to?
I would describe the music I listen to as like pop-rock that’s kind of folksy sounding. So I’ve got like Ray LaMontagne in my library. And I like hip-hop, weirdly enough.
What’s your favorite thing to do on the weekends or when you are not preparing for school or debate?
Probably two things. I love to travel (not so much anymore with Covid), so weekends were a lot of travel planning and trying to learn photography because I want to get better at it. And the other thing I do a lot of is write about politics, and so the weekends are a good time for me to bear down and get some of that done. I’ve been writing about politics for 15 years, and this site that I do started as a blog but now it’s a bit bigger. In fact I’ve actually been cited in both the race for governor and race for senate in Montana this year.
You ran for governor in Montana at one point, would be willing to tell us a little bit about that and your campaign?
Yeah for sure. When I ran for governor, it was definitely a protest campaign. At the time, I felt like the state wasn’t doing enough to fund education, so I thought that by running I would have a platform to at least talk about education. I was running against a really popular democratic incumbent, and only ended up winning 3% of the vote, but it still was a good opportunity and experience.
What is a piece of advice you would give to high schoolers? It’s a rough stage in your life being a teenager, especially these days, so what’s a piece of advice you would give to us?
The worst thing you can let control your life is fear of embarrassment. It’s the worst thing to keep you from doing stuff. No one will remember what you did in high school, and even if they do they won’t care. If you want to do something you should do it. I say that as a person who was very shy, but I realized life is more fun when you do what feels right.
*Interview recorded on September 23, 2020 by Everett Gordon and Genevieve Savage*