John Puchein has been Olympia High School's AP Human Geography teacher and APEX ninth-grade teacher for 15 years. He also has coached football, basketball and bowling, as well as served as the deputy commander of Olympia’s Civil Air Patrol Unit. Puchein has been nominated for Teacher of the Year six times, including the past five years. Christy L. Gorberg, principal at Olympia High School, said Puchein is a Titan through and through. “They (the students) not only pass the course and the exam, they truly build relationships and get prepared for the remainder of their years in high school along the way,” she said. “Mr. Puchein’s energy and sense of humor makes this difficult and sometimes not-so-interesting course one that the students look forward to and miss after they leave him.”
What brought you to your school?
I wanted to teach high school when Gotha Middle School hired me, but there were never any openings. When I heard Olympia was opening, I jumped at the chance to teach there and be involved in starting a new school.
What do you love most about your school?
The opportunity to work with students from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. The diversity on our campus is what makes it such an exciting place to be.
What is your motivation?
Seeing students be excited to learn and watching them enjoy coming to school.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Having former students keep in touch with me. Seeing the kids I taught when they were so young grow up, get jobs and start their own families. It is humbling for them to want to keep in contact and to get to see the outcome of the impact I have made.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
My family and I enjoy the outdoors, hanging out in downtown Winter Garden and trying new restaurants. I also enjoy watching my daughter cheer for the West Orange Wildcats.
Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school? Why?
Mrs. Brady in middle school. She always went out of her way to help me, and she had a significant influence on me going into teaching.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why?
I always wanted to be an astronaut, because I was fascinated with astronomy, and studying the stars and planets.
What is your favorite children’s book and why?
“The Hardy Boys!” I love a good mystery, and I read every single book in the series.
What are your hobbies?
I enjoy cycling, video games, working on my 1973 Mustang and spending time at car shows.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
Money! Yes, I know it is not a superpower, but as all my students know, Batman is my favorite superhero!
If you could only listen to three bands or artists for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?
My favorite three bands: Pink Floyd, Disturbed and The Psychedelic Furs. I love their lyrics and imagery in their music — especially Pink Floyd.
What was your go-to lunch as an elementary student? Any favorite snacks or special treats you remember?
I am not a picky eater; whatever my mom packed. Probably peanut butter and jelly or soup in one of those old-school metal Thermoses.
What is your favorite holiday and why?
Halloween! I love decorating and making the house and yard spooky.
Who was your best friend when you were in school and why? Are you still in touch?
One of my best friends in school was Amy, and we still keep in touch after over 35 years!
What were your extracurricular activities as a student? Did you win any accolades or honors?
I mostly participated in basketball when I was in school.