A summer break for Matt Wunderle?
l The Ravenna High School boys soccer coach and social studies teacher completed his school year, then just days later, traveled to Washington D.C. as part of the James Madison Memorial Foundation Fellowship program.
Wunderle earned the prestigious opportunity after being selected as Ohio’s representative in April 2021.
To explain how distinguished the honor is, only one teacher per state is selected.
“I was incredibly honored,” Wunderle said.
The United States Congress established the James Madison Memorial Foundation in 1986 with the intention of being a champion and to grow civid education.
As part of the award, the remainder of Wunderle’s Master’s Degree will be funded by the program, which Wunderle reported he is just three classes away from earning the degree from Ashland University.
Additionally, Wunderle received the opportunity to spend a month in Washington D.C. as part of the James Madison Summer Institute.
He spent June 11 through July 8 immersed in American history.
“It was an incredible opportunity. In many ways, the chance was an opportunity in a lifetime and it was life changing, to be honest,” Wunderle said. “To spend a full month in that kind of environment allowed me, and all of us, to lose ourselves in the study.”
Wunderle said each day was outlined by an intinerary for a new adventure.
Breakfast would give way to a 2-hour lecture, which was followed by a discussion.
Lunch would segway into another lecture — provided by top-level scholars from around the country — and then the group would move into an outing.
Wunderle enthusiastically listed off trips to the Supreme Court’s conference room, Capitol Building, Library of Congress, Mount Vernon, Gunston Hall and the city of Philadelphia, where they went to Independence Hall, Constitution Hall, Liberty Bell, and the Museum of American Revolution.
Wunderle listed the American Revolution museum as the one that “was most special to me.”
“The entire experience, every single day, was just incredible,” Wunderle said. “Of course, it was really tough to be away from my family for that long, but they were very understanding and supportive.
“Even when we were not in a lecture or a scheduled discussion, our group would talk about history,” Wunderle said. “We would be at our apartment, having a meal or playing corn hole, and a deep conversation about The Federalists Papers or Montesquieu would open up. It was enlightening.”
Wunderle, whose enthusiasm to teach could never be called into question, said he is now looking forward to the start of the school year even more than usual.
“I am excited. The experience has allowed me to develop a deep well of knowledge for my students, and I can’t wait to share it with them,” he said. “Documents or ideas that I was once teaching based on a secondary source, I have now been able to visit and study it as a primary source with a better and deeper understanding.”
Upon his return back home to Ravenna, Wunderle had purposely blacked out his first week back so that he could catch up and spend needed quality time with his family.
Then it was time to kick into gear for the Ravens’ soccer program.
Reviving a tradition that had been paused the last two summers because of COVID, Wunderle re-introduced the team’s summer team trip.
Wunderle’s boys soccer team spent July 25-27 in Cleveland bonding as a team and also offering players the opportunity to visit and tour college campuses.
In addition to university visits, Wunderle set up a scrimmage with Cleveland Benedictine, a fun day at an escape room and also a Team Olympic competition at Edgewater Park Beach that included swimming, soccer horseshoes, soccer tennis, ultimate frisbee and more.
“The boys had such a great time, and I know they went home exhausted,” Wunderle said. “We really tried to squeeze as much into those three days as we could to make the trip all it could be.”
So proud of you and so glad I got to be your mentor for your first year. Keep on loving teaching.
Great article, great educator! Thanks for sharing the storyTom, thanks for sharing your caring Matt!
Looking forward to your articles!
Matt is one of our finest graduates and he continues to bring honor to our district. I’m proud to have been one of his teachers.