Pollack puts down pen after 32-year career


English teacher Gene Pollack

Sydeny Geffers and Leisha Chopra

This week marks not only the end of a semester of digital learning but also the end of a wondrous career.

English teacher and department chair Gene Pollack will retire after 32 years. 

Pollack has taught nearly all English classes North has to offer and is currently teaching English 3 Honors, Myths and Legends, and Sports Lit. 

As the most tenured staff member at North, Pollack has seen a lot of changes take place at North, physically with the building and with students over the years. 

“The changes at North are all relative. The walls and security have changed the most. Back in the day, most classrooms did not even have walls or doors. Teaching was really collaborative,” said Pollack.

Furthermore, Pollack shared how students have changed over the years.

“Students have changed over the years I have been teaching. A lot of the changes are because of state standards. State standards have changed many students’ abilities. Nowadays, if students really want to and are motivated, they can get A’s on every paper in English. Teaching standards have changed education a lot in both positive and negative ways.”

Pollack has had many students over the course of teaching, and therefore, he has had many moments that have stuck out to him,

“During my first few years of teaching, I once had a student who thought he was Jesus Christ,” Pollack said. “He had the long hair and everything, so he could look just like Jesus, which, in some ways, he actually did.” 

Pollack has made an impact on many students and still continues to do so. He has the ability to maintain positive relationships with his students. In fact, Pollack even talked about how he went skydiving and paintballing with former students and how he got a special nickname from them, 

“They didn’t want to call me Mr. Pollack, but they also didn’t want to call me Gene, so that’s where I got the nickname ‘G-Po’ from,” said Pollack. 

In fact, Pollack maintained such a positive relationship with his students, 15 years ago, Pollack did quite an original thing for his students.

“We had a snow day on the day an essay was due. My students delivered their essays to my house on the snow days,” said Pollack.

Pollack mentioned how his favorite subject to teach is American Literature and emphasized how Puritans are not his favorite subject to teach, which is a great clarification for current and former English 3 Honors students. 

In fact, 10 years ago a parent complained about Pollack’s way of teaching to the superintendent. The parent was an English 3 teacher at another school and his daughter was in his class. He complained about how Pollack taught heavily about the Puritans and how his extra credit opportunities were unfair. However, the district sided with Pollack and did not have him change a thing about his teaching methods. 

Aside from Pollack’s teaching job, he was a bartender on the side for 20 years. Along with bartending, Pollack has a passion for tennis and has also coached tennis seven years after he first started teaching. 

Pollack was hired by the late Principal Bob Kellerman and the late Assistant Principal George Hightdudis after getting a recommendation from former Assistant Superintendent Geroge Pouba. He originally interviewed for a position at West, but given the requirements for the position, he landed at North and was more than happy with the outcome.

After reflecting on the last thirty-two years, Pollack says how former English Jim White was the most influential staff member for Pollack’s successful career.

“I would always go to him and ask questions. He was the guy that would always provide me with a very objective answer. Could always change with the times. He knows human nature and the nature of students. He wasn’t afraid to tell me I was wrong because that’s what you really need when you’re a young teacher. We shared an office for at least 25 years and that’s how we had a strong bond,” said Pollack.

Pollack has contributed a lot to North during his years of teaching. His contributions include department head for English, peer mentor for adolescents, JV tennis coach, Yearbook advisor, announcer for girls and boys JV basketball for 10 years, internal coach for Spartan Pride, Polaris advisor, and many more.

Pollack plans to spend time up north at his lake cabin near Conover after his retirement.

Pollack’s legacy will always remain at Oshkosh North in many ways.