District family leaving for Thailand next year

Bangkok, Thailand, has a population of over eight million, and in mid-July, the city will be gaining a family of three, the Hartmans.

Jennifer and Jeff Hartman are taking their youngest son Luke, a fifth grader grader who attends North Cedar Elementary to Thailand. The Hartmans will be leaving their eldest daughter, Savannah, and their middle child, Jake behind. Jake is enrolled in UNI and Savannah at Luther College.

The Hartmans have worked out plans to meet up with their eldest during holidays and breaks. “We are planning on them coming to stay with us during Christmas break each year. We are also planning on returning for summer break each year,” Jeff said.

Jeff has been teaching AP and honors biology while coaching men’s cross country for 21 years. Jennifer is the principal of North Cedar Elementary and has been working there for 10 years.

The Hartmans both plan on continuing their careers in education in Thailand. “Both Jen and I will be working at the American School of Bangkok. I will be teaching high school science and Jen will be the curriculum director.  ASB is a private international school that teaches an American curriculum.  The school has students from Thailand, Japan, Korea, USA, Canada and 35 other nationalities,” Jeff said.

Susan Considine and Scott Bohlmann teach honors biology with Hartman, and both have been working with him for many years. “I started in 2008. I have taught at least one class in common with Mr. Hartman every year but one.  I can’t think of a single week that I don’t talk with him about lesson plans, lab activities or the best way to teach a topic,” Bohlmann said.

According to Considine, Hartman is a devoted teacher and is invested in his students’ education. “Mr. Hartman genuinely cares about his students and their success in learning. He works very hard as a teacher to help students make connections to difficult material. He also has a way of inspiring kids to work hard in his classes. He provides students with the tools that allow them to experience success at the next level,” Considine said.

Students are very appreciative of Hartman’s teaching. “I really enjoy biology with Mr. Hartman. He explains different topics very well and really cares whether or not his students understand the material. I have biology first hour, and when I get into class, it doesn’t even seem like it’s 8 in the morning,” said Sofia Munoz, an honors biology student and freshman at Peet Junior High.

Getting across material is not the only important thing for a teacher. It is extremely important to execute the knowledge in a way the students will absorb the information; Hartman’s students praise him for his ability to do this. “He’s really interesting and has a good style of teaching. He is great at explaining things if we’re confused,” said Jayna Freeman, an honors biology student and freshman at Holmes Junior High.

Head coach of men’s cross country and Associate Principal at the high school Troy Becker and coach Hartman have been working together since 1996. They work very well together and have great synergy, and their different personalities help get a lot of things accomplished for the cross country athletes. “He has challenged me a lot on why we do what we do in terms of training. We have made a lot of changes over the years, and he has really pushed for a lot of what we do.  His science background has been very valuable in how our programs has improved,” Becker said.

The team has gone to State for the last 25 years, and very special men come out of the two coaches’ program. “Coach Hartman is a man of tremendous character and a very loyal friend.  He is somebody that you can really count on and is someone that you would completely trust,” Becker said.

Andrew Nurse, former student and cross country athlete, has been family friends with the Hartmans ever since he can remember. “I am very close to coach Hartman. My family and his have known each other ever since I was born,” Nurse said. He is also close friends with Jake, coach Hartman’s son, so he has seen all sides of coach Hartman and has received loads of advice from him.

“One thing he does that I admire is that I feel like he is living life to his fullest, always following his passions and giving his all to leave an impact on this world,” Nurse said. “Coach Hartman has taught me that patience is key in order to do your best. With the hard work you put in and out of the season, performing at State seems like a lot less pressure when you know you’ve waited and prepared for that particular moment.”

Nurse said coach Hartman also has advice about any situation one may think of. “Coach Hartman has taught me that in order to get what you want out of something, you have to put 100 percent effort into it, no matter what the situation is.”

Another cross country athlete and student is very appreciative of coach Hartman’s coaching and has also received multiple life lessons from him. “He taught me that any virtues and lessons you learn in cross country can transfer over to everyday life,” sophomore Dawson Bremmer said.

Bremmer said coach Hartman stands out because he is a coach that respects all the runners and encourages them equally. “He is a great encourager and makes everyone feel special,” Bremmer said.

He added that Hartman is not afraid to give any athlete words of advice and praise for effort they have put in. “During one of my few varsity races, he pulled me aside before the race and said, ‘I am really proud of you and the effort you have put in. Just go out there and have fun!’ Those words were very encouraging,” Bremmer said.

Becker said another quality of an exceptional coach is persistency and productivity, and coach Hartman displays these characteristics at all times. “Some of my favorite memories are just sitting together on the bus rides home and coming up with ways to make the program better. I also have a special memory of watching him complete his Iron Man competition. I was very proud of his determination and accomplishment,” Becker said.

His students say not only does Hartman impact athletes’ life, he also does a great job helping students carve out their paths for their futures. “Mr. Hartman has definitely influenced my life. Before taking biology from him, I had never had a subject in school besides electives that stood out to me and made me excited to go to school. There wasn’t a field that I could see myself having a career in. The combination of being able to learn about such an interesting topic from such an influential teacher changed my future,” Munoz said.

Jeff and Jennifer Hartman have had experience with different cultures before, having taught overseas before they had children. Since Luke, their youngest son, is now in fifth grade, they want to expose him to new people and cultures.

“Our older two kids are successful in college, and this seemed like the right time to move with our fifth grade son, Luke. We love learning from others, and we look forward to meeting new people from around the world. We also hope to travel quite a lot while we are there,” Jennifer said.

Not only does Jeff teach science and coach cross country, he has real life experience with sciences. “Mr. Hartman has a strong biological background between his time and work in labs at Mayo Clinic to the numerous years he has taught,” Bohlmann said. “He is able to take this experience and break down complex topics in ways that are easy for students to understand.  He is also a master of coming up with demos and review activities on the fly.”

With Jeff’s familiarity with other cultures and sciences and his ability to connect with students, he will easily be able to fit into his new school in Thailand. “Mr. Hartman embraces change in many ways, and so because of him, I’m more determined not to get set in my ways and experience more of what life has to offer,” Considine said.

The Hartman family, being interested in culture and meeting new people, already have traveling plans for their upcoming move. “We hope to do a lot of traveling while we are there. There is a lot to explore in Thailand, and we also hope to travel to Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore and Bali,” Jeff said. “When my wife and I taught in Guam, we visited Bali, and we’ve always wanted to go back. I also really want to visit Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and my son wants to visit the Cambodian landmine museum. Thailand is home to some amazing beaches and lots of beautiful ancient temples,” Jeff said.

Jeff and Jennifer both relish Thai food. “I LOVE it!” Jennifer said. “In fact, I’m meeting a friend at Ginger Thai today. I also love Vietnamese food, and we will be very close to Vietnam.”

Others are excited about his new adventure with authentic Thai food and think it’s good to try different and new things. “Enjoy the new experiences,” Bohlmann said. “You’ll be in a part of the world most of us would never think to move to.  Also, enjoy the food. Thai food is great.”

But the best tip for the Hartmans is simple. Live, laugh and embrace the culture. “In all seriousness, I would just tell him to try to immerse himself in the culture and enjoy the opportunity. He is one of the best teachers I know. He knows what he is doing. I would tell him not to worry too much about being in a new environment and trust his knowledge and experience,” senior cross country runner Sam Schillinger said.

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