Resolved: Hachmeister rocks!

Speech teacher Mike Hachmeister earns 2021 Teacher of the Year honor.


Grace Schneider

Mike Hachmeister addresses his 3rd block Debate class.

There’s no debate, Michael Hachmeister is South High’s Teacher of the Year for 2021.

Hachmeister said he is humbled by the honor.

“There are so many great teachers in our building.  Hopefully, my energy and passion for what I teach comes across to the students,” he said.

When he’s not teaching, Hachmeister has a wide variety of hobbies.

“I have a number of interests–sports, movies and music. I can definitely get sidetracked talking about any of those. As far as hobbies, I enjoy running and being outdoors. I also read quite a bit. As a family, we like to travel when we can,” he said.

Hachmeister is married with a son in college and a daughter who is a senior in high school. 

He said it wasn’t always his plan to become a teacher.

My Latin teacher had suggested it but that was not my plan. I had always enjoyed teaching swim lessons but had not thought made the connection to teaching as a career. During my time in the Army, I started to think of it as a possibility and then I did some volunteer coaching with a debate team and that helped me decide,” Hachmeister said.

Hachmeister currently teaches Competitive Speech and Debate, Broadcast and Production, and Public Speaking.

“I warn them that I ‘geek out’ over Public Speaking and Debate. I also believe I have the ability to help them believe in themselves. Much of what I teach involves students doing things they are not comfortable doing so helping them believe they can do it is important,” he said. 

Senior Danny Faust is a student in Hachmeister’s Competitive Speech and Debate class and a member of the debate team.

“Mr. Hachmeister unequivocally deserves this award. Not only is he a great teacher, but he is also a great man that is willing to help students through thick and thin of high school. Mr. Hachmeister truly represents every aspect of a great teacher, and that is why I believe he is deserving of Teacher of the Year,” he said.

Theatre teacher Jennifer Forrest-James agrees that he deserves the honor.

“The fact that he cares about students’ (and teachers’) whole self–their emotional well-being as well as delivering challenging and relevant curriculum,” she said. 

 Hachmeister says his family was happy for him when they found out he was selected.

“They were excited. I am lucky–my wife is a teacher as well and she won Teacher of the Year in the building a few years ago,” he said.

Forrest-James also says that her favorite thing about him is “his positive outlook.”

Hachmeister reflects on what his younger self’s reaction would have been to becoming a teacher.

 “He would laugh and probably not believe it. He would be thinking something like ‘Mrs. Elifritz told you so.’ The other thing he would say is that I need to be more like Mr. Keating from Dead Poets Society when I teach,” he said.  

Hachmeister says teaching at South wasn’t planned.

“I lucked into teaching at South,” Hachmeister says. “I had gotten out of HS teaching and got an invitation to Mrs. Pierce’s [the former speech/debate teacher her] retirement party.  I asked who was taking over and they were still in the hiring process.  I thought about it, realized HS teaching is what I should be doing and applied.  Fortunately for me, I got the job and 13 years later I am still here.”

Forrest-James and Faust reflect on what her first impressions of Hachmeister were.

“I would say energetic,” said Forrest-James.

In one of the first weeks of school my freshman year, my mother introduced me to Mr. Hachmeister for the first time. Right away, I knew I would enjoy any class with him because of his quick-witted humor and his lovable personality,” Faust said. 

Faust describes Hachmeister’s teaching style as a, “hands-on approach to teaching. He gives students the ability to choose topics they are passionate about, and provides a classroom where creativity and ambition are rewarded.”

Faust said Hachmeister inspires him through his responses and observations of students’ work.

“Mr. Hachmeister is always available to give feedback on assignments, as well as cases and ballots. He’s willing to make comments, critiques, suggestions that truly allow you to better understand the topic at hand,” Faust said.

Hachmeister believes that there is no “one best” thing about teaching.

I think there are many ‘best parts’ to teaching. Working with high school students means every day is different-I also think it is the students who help keep me young at heart. I am also lucky to work with amazing people in our building. Obviously things have been challenging for the last year but what everyone has done to overcome those challenges is truly inspiring,” he said.