Q & A: The ‘Observer’ hangs with Rosie

By Hannah Yasharoff, PR & Social Media Editor

At 5’5”, social studies teacher Evan Rosenthal blends into the halls of CHS easily, but his unwavering positivity and infectious spirit make him anything but invisible.

Affectionately called “Rosie” by many of his students, Rosenthal has helped revolutionize the way CHS students and staff look at school spirit. When asked about doing this interview, Rosenthal assured me that I could stop by any time, any day of the week.

“My office hours pretty much never end,” he told me.

This is perhaps the best testament to Rosenthal’s work ethic: his energy and willingness to participate in school events has become contagious. You might know him as a Modern World History or AP Psychology teacher, as the freshman class sponsor, as the leader of the CHS Goon Squad, a group introduced to bring more spirit to lesser-attended sporting events or even by his online presence with his Twitter account, @HanginWithRosie. But whatever side of Rosenthal you’re familiar with, you’ll recognize his undying determination to make CHS a better place to learn. During his famous “never-ending” office hours, Rosenthal sat down and gave the Observer an exclusive chance to hang with Rosie.

The Churchill Observer: You came to CHS last year and pretty immediately established yourself as a teacher with a lot of spirit. Where did all that spirit come from?

Rosenthal: I think that, honestly, I’m just the loud person. Even before a lot of students knew me, I would always just walk through the halls and give people high fives. My belief in the importance of school spirit, I think, really stems from my high school experience at Sherwood, which was very, very community based. Everybody just went to everything. Then when I went to the University of Maryland, the student body was incredibly involved. But when I really saw it coming through was in my first teaching experience. I taught at Westminster High School in Carroll County, and I saw a student body that always dressed up for things and just loved being at school. Not just for the academic portion, but for the enjoyment of being around friends and being goofy and recognizing that you’re 16 years old, and it’s okay to be outside the box.

Your Twitter account has gained a pretty steady following with CHS students, but teacher Twitter accounts are still pretty rare. How do you think being accessible online both helps students in the classroom and in extracurricular activities?

Here’s the interesting thing about Twitter: I think that because it’s a new form of media, a lot of people are afraid of it. It’s a weird place. People can comment on anything; you don’t have to have a name and a face behind a comment. But I think that it does two things: the first thing that it does is that it provides students a way to directly get in touch with me when they need it. For instance, I’ve had students ask review questions for AP Psych, or Modern World History, where my phone goes off and I can respond right away. It also really gives students a better sense of who I am. It makes me more relatable as a person. That’s who I am. I’m just real. I’m just straightforward and to the point, and I think students respect that. I think there are a lot of teachers who do that and more and more teachers are using social media, and now that we have Google Chromebooks and Google Classroom and all this stuff, there are just new ways for teachers and students to communicate and make education awesome.

Where did the name “Hangin’ With Rosie” come from?

[Laughs.] I just thought it would be like, ‘You’ve got a question? You’re hanging with Rosie.’ There was also this really good TV show when I was growing up called Hanging With Mr. Cooper, and Mr. Cooper was the cool, hip teacher, and everybody loved him, and I thought, ‘Yeah, that could be me.’ He was also really tall, but I’m not that.

You became the freshman class sponsor this year. What has your experience with SGA been like?

The freshmen are great. It’s really cool to kind of be in charge of introducing high school to them and showing them the way that high school should be: energetic and excited.

You also started the Goon Squad this year to increase enthusiasm about athletics, specifically for girls basketball. Why did you start the squad and what was the process like?

I have to give all props in that to [varsity girls basketball coach] Ms. McMahon for the idea. I think that she just came to me because I’m a loud person, and I get really excited about that kind of stuff, but really the reason why Ms. McMahon wanted to start it was because she also saw this need for more student engagement. My hope is that that idea really catches hold in the school and more and more people want to be a part of it. This sounds so ridiculous, but I don’t want to be like the [Walt Whitman High School spirit squad,] Whitmaniacs. I want us to be better than that. I want us to be bigger; I want us to be louder; I want us to be a stronger student body. Not just in athletics, but I want us to be more supportive of everybody across the board.

Another new development is your lunchtime spirit sessions. What was the idea behind that?

That actually just got approved, officially, for us to be able to do that more often. My Philosophy class helped me come up with that. I’m just trying to find new ways to make school cool. I’m just giving another venue for students to feel that school isn’t all about academics, which is incredibly important, but just to relieve some of the stress and have a good time.

You’re obviously working very hard to develop school spirit outside of the classroom. How do you balance that with also teaching during the day?

For me, I think they really go hand in hand. I believe in the importance of academics and students taking classes that really push them, but most students would say that they’re more engaged in school when their friends are around, and then they’re happier when they have to go to class. Teaching and learning are both more natural when you’re having a good time in the classroom.

You’re already doing plenty, but are there any new spirit plans in the works?

Here’s a funny thing I always tell students: my goal is that in five years, when you open up the yearbook, for the inside front cover to just say ‘Evan Rosenthal, CEO of Churchill.’ But seriously, I just think that we all play our role here in this school, and if my role is to be the guy that just rallies support, I’m cool with that. I don’t think there’s any ‘next,’ I just want to see Churchill—the school, the students, the teachers, everything—just be the best it can be.