Picking up passions

Erbach helps students find their passion, and believes that they can follow them


Talking with students during office hours, Erbach translates his personality into every day on the job teaching.

Mackenzie Sroka, Staff Writer

It is the beginning of the school year at McHenry West High School, and Mr. Dane Erbach sees that some of his students from the year before are in his Newspaper class. He is excited to see this because he helped some students find their passion. He hopes that when they graduate they will find some way to keep going with their passion, just like he did. These are the moments he enjoys most and why he became a teacher because he has helped a student find their belonging. While helping his students is always his priority, he still finds time to pursue his own personal passions, and this shows his students that they shouldn’t give up on any of their passions in life.

Erbach loves his hobby of writing books, and playing music, but he never knew completely if he should pursue them as careers. Until one day he thought deeply about the situation he was in. “There is probably a point where I realized that if I couldn’t be a writer for a living, or if I couldn’t be in a band for a living , maybe I could inspire other people too,” Erbach explained. He knew that his hobbies couldn’t be a career, but that he wanted to inspire others.“That’s where the whole ‘teaching thing’ came from; maybe somebody else is going to find their passion in my classroom. And that gives me passion, too,” Erbach clarified. Once he figured out what he wanted to do there was no turning back. 

Even though he is a full time teacher and father, Erbach still gets to enjoy his hobbies everyday. “I have found a way to try to make some of my passions professional, while I have been teaching,” Erbach described. Between teaching, writing, being in a band, and being a father he keeps himself very busy, but he seems to enjoy every day of his life. He has always kept himself busy, even in high school, but it is when he began to teach that it started to bring him the joy he wanted. 

As a high school student he participated in band and writing, and tried to be as connected to the school as possible, but it never seemed to work. “I never felt noticed by my high school, it was awful,” Erbach described. “I felt if I could be a teacher and help people feel connected to their school that might not otherwise, I could make somebody else’s high school experience better.” He wants his students to have the high school experience that he never got to have. It is important to him to help as many students as possible achieve this.“I’d like to think that there are a few kids that have felt connected to the school have found a connection through the yearbook, or the newspaper, or by being a creative writer.” When he knows that he has helped a student find their place in the school, it gives him tremendous joy. 

Most people, like Erbach, don’t know what their passion is until later in life, but Erbach wants to help students find their passions in high school. Even if he only has one or two students that truly find their passion, he feels that he had a successful year. “At the end of the school year, you feel this sense that some of these kids are going to college because I helped steer them that way,” Erbach expressed. He feels he has helped students find and stay with their passions in life.

The students that he does inspire are happy about the route they chose due to Erbach. “Mr. Erbach has inspired me to continue journalism even outside of school, because he’s always pushed and inspired me to provide my best work,” Kyla Henige, a junior at MCHS, described. “By doing so it made me love writing even more knowing that I’m informing so many people while doing what I love most. And I owe it all to him.” The students that Erbach helps find their passion are so grateful for it, and Erbach gets inspired from that, too.

Since Erbach has so many passions in life, he finds it very important to find time to pursue them. Teaching is the perfect job for that! “I chose a career that allowed me to do this thing I found fulfilling, which is helping other people find their creativity, but then also pursue my own creativity,” Erbach explained. His student’s successes and when they find their passions make him inspired to continue teaching.

With teaching, writing, a band member, and being a dad, Erbach’s life is very busy, but he loves every moment of it. He works toward being able to pursue all of his passions in everyday life. He wants his students to be able to find and pursue their passions, like he has. Having the ability to follow your passions can make you so happy in highschool and beyond. Everyday people can achieve this, and Erbach proves it is possible. When people follow their passions and don’t give up on them, it can lead to amazing things.