The panicked tour guide frantically searched the premises of the Summer Time Palace for her “lost” tour group member.
Only, the tour member wasn’t at all lost; in fact, he knew exactly where he was, and where his group was. Except he wasn’t quite ready to return to his group, so he continued to explore independently.
Prospect history teacher Jonathon Kaminsky seemed to have missed the repeated instruction to meet back with the tour group in five minutes. Instead, he unknowingly voyaged off, letting his wandering mind take him wherever he wanted.
It was the last week of the AP World History conference in China when Kaminsky and his colleagues David Schnell, Prospect, and Mark Cushing, Buffalo Grove, toured the Marble Boat. After countless tours and long, hot days, the three teachers were willing to do anything to entertain themselves.
For Kaminsky, that meant wandering off. For Schnell and Cushing, that meant convincing their worried tour guide, Wendy, that Kaminsky was forever lost.
Pressed for time and surrounded by tourists, finding Kaminsky was like finding a needle in a hay stack for Wendy. It didn’t help that Schnell and Cushing had the tour guide convinced Kaminsky was super young, around twelve years old, and that he always gets lost.
Eventually, Kaminsky returned to his group, and received a scolding from his tour guide, who continued to believe Kaminsky was yet to become a teenager.
“Mr.Kaminsky is a wanderer,” Schell said. “I don’t know if he gets bored or if he’s like ‘Oh I want to go see that over there’ but he’ll just go and wander off places.”
Some might not get it, but Kaminsky “wanders” off because he likes learning things, and apparently he wasn’t learning enough from his tour guide.
His love and desire for learning made teaching the perfect career for him. Kaminsky has been teaching for nine years; he teaches regular World History, and AP World History.
Not only does Kaminsky love learning, he also loves traveling. That combination made his Marble Boat adventure expected to those who really know him.
A perfect vacation for Kaminsky consists of a concert, some type of sporting event, something related to history, and nature. He likes having something to do when he is on vacation.
San Francisco meets all of the criteria; therefore, Kaminsky made his fifth trip west to Northern California this past summer. While in Fog City, Kaminsky attended one of his favorite concerts, the Jay Z and Beyoncé On the Run tour.
Just this past summer, he watched around 90 bands, and went to four three-day music festivals, with headliners including Kanye West, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, and Snoop Dogg.
“I’ve always been a huge music person, and then when you get the right group of people to go to a concert, it’s fun,” Kaminsky said. “Every concert has its own different, weird atmosphere.”
He furthers that claim by stating that just recently when he was at an alternative concert, he had made it to the front of the mosh pit, and watched as several people got pushed around and fell into the mud surrounding the pit. He recalled how he helped multiple people up after the intense crowd knocked them down.
Kaminsky has a theory that Electronic Dance Music, or EDM, fans are the nicest, and pop fans are the worst, particularly One Direction fans.
“When you go to an EDM concert, no one is like ‘I love this DJ’ or ‘I need to marry him’,” Kaminsky said. “But when girls go to a One Direction concert, they now decide that they are going to marry one of them, and all the other girls are competition.”
Because of his theory, EDM concerts and festivals tend to be his favorite.
Since he attended so many concerts this summer, Kaminsky ran into more than enough of his past or present students. But that doesn’t seem to bother Kaminsky.
When he first started teaching, he intentionally lived outside of the Mount Prospect/ Arlington Heights area, but hated the daily commute. Now a current resident of Arlington Heights, Kaminsky is not at all bothered by seeing his students outside of school.
In fact, daily interactions with students is one of the things Kaminsky loves most about being a teacher. Walking through the hallway and being able to recognize so many students and say hi to them is a good feeling for him.
According to Kaminsky, he loves his job and has so much fun each and everyday with his students and coworkers.
“If it wasn’t fun, I think it would really suck because there is a lot of time spent here, and a lot of time thinking about it,” Kaminsky said “Although you get the summer off, there is not a lot of free time on weekends since I coach all three seasons. But I think it’s fun to be surrounded by so many cool people.”
He’s not lying when he says there is not a lot of free time; as the coach of boys’ and girls’ soccer, and the speech team, it’s obvious Kaminsky is very dedicated to Prospect. For Kaminsky, it’s all worth it because he loves his job, and he loves his students.
Over the past nine years, he has formulated a learning environment that works for him. By making his class more relaxed and fun, he has noticed his students are excited to come to class, and feel comfortable in his classroom.
Kaminsky isn’t one to lecture all period and stick only to his lesson plans. He likes to communicate with his students, and avoid lecturing the entire fifty minutes.
“It’d be easy to remove the parts that make the class fun, but what I have found is if it’s a fifty minute class, I can either completely fill the fifty minutes with information, but then the students won’t pay attention since it’s a history class, and end up doing poorly,” Kaminsky said. “But if people actually want to come to the class, for whatever reason, it could be because I tell some crazy story, or because the person next to them is nice, or they get to pick their own seats, if it’s a class they don’t dread they tend to do better.”
Kaminsky attended Northern Michigan University after high school but transferred after his freshman year to Illinois State University.
“Northern Michigan didn’t fit my personality,” Kaminsky said. “[In my opinion] It wasn’t really an intellectual school, and the people weren’t really interested in learning.”
However, as a college student, Kaminsky had no interest in teaching. In fact, it wasn’t until he student taught at Conant High School that he realized his passion for education.
In his early years of college, he wanted to be a lawyer, but his parents made him get a degree in something he could do something with, so he decided to look into education.
The way he sees it, Kaminsky’s family always had his best interest at heart, whether it be when deciding a career path, or helping him become the person he is today.
He explains that he doesn’t have one idol in particular, but instead idolizes bits and pieces of each member in his family.
“Almost everybody has some awesome thing that would be worth copying or taking into account,” Kaminsky explains.
His brother, Nick, is a free spirit hippie who’s coated in thirty to forty tattoos, and his sister Lindsey is caring and cares for the elderly, his mom’s focus and detail, and his dad’s mix of everything are all traits that Kaminsky admires about his family.
His family members’ admirable traits have rubbed off on him, to say the least. Kaminsky is always searching for something to explore and learn. His laid back, carefree personality lets his mind take him wherever he wants to go.
“I feel like in a non-competitive, competitive way, I’m trying to keep up with him all the time,” Schnell said. “If you know him at all, he’s got his hands into everything. He’s coaching speech, he’s coaching soccer, he reads a bunch of books, he goes over and does this and that, I don’t think the guy stands still.”