The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

Mr. Claahsen sets his new standard

Jack Breakey ’24
The majority of MC sophomores have Mr. Dan Claahsen for class each day.

This year, Mount Carmel has welcomed Mr. Dan Claahsen as the new US Government teacher for the sophomores. 

Mr. Claahsen grew up in Bridgeport before moving out to Crestwood where he was mostly raised. He graduated from Milligan University, a private Christian college in Tennessee. 

At a very young age he had the dream to become a state trooper, but he soon realized the people who were helping him were teachers. This inspiration led him to pursue teaching in college.

Right out of college, he began work at St. Ethelreda School on 87th and Paulina and shortly after made the jump to Chicago Public Schools, where he then taught for twenty-five years. 

During his time at CPS, he worked as a dean of students, athletic director, driving instructor, and head football coach besides his teaching duties. 

“It is hard to change jobs after so many years,” said Mr. Claahsen. “CPS is a whole different system. Even though I’m still teaching history, the system is so different, but that’s what is appealing and has kept me fresh.”

Mr. Claahsen taught social sciences for most of his career, from World History, Human Geography, and Government. He taught longest at Phoenix Military Academy near the United Center.

His background in education led him to be able to attend workshops and even host seminars across the United States.

“I got twenty-five years of education, so I know quite a bit,” said Mr. Claahsen, “I gave out professional seminars on empowered discipline and had the chance to go throughout the country to give these seminars. I enjoyed it, it was learning. As I was in the field, I just wanted to learn as much as I could so every opportunity was present. It was fair play.”

Mr. Claahsen’s experience gives him the opportunity to be impactful in the classroom. He engages with his students but also has an academic standard for them. He expects the absolute best from his students.

“Standards are important,” he says. “That’s what got me hired here. I really enjoyed my teaching with the Catholic school system, and what appeals to me the most is we have some type of standard. Not just academically, but also socially. I love teaching here as we are successful in our athletics, but at the same time, I can turn over and help MC with academics. My coaching days are over, but my classroom days are far from it.”

With a school filled with hard-working individuals holding students to high standards, he fits the bill. 

“I have a standard I want the kids to live up to, academically and personally,” said Mr. Claahsen, “This is the place to do it.”

With most of his career with CPS, Mr. Claahsen has also noticed a lot of differences in behavior compared to a co-ed environment. The major difference he points to is that there is more camaraderie and brotherhood. Another factor is the idea of adding faith into the curriculum.

“The hardest problem I have had since I have been here is the rotating schedule,” said Mr. Claahsen. “It’s unique to me. I have never seen it before.”

With CPS always being on a rigid schedule, it’s easy to understand MC’s schedule being an acquired taste.

“I thought I would have this down in two weeks, and sixteen to eighteen weeks later, I’m still learning,” said Mr. Claahsen.

When students are out for the summer, Mr. Claahsen works as a driving instructor for the State of Illinois. When you visit the DMV, sometimes drivers will be selected to do a quick driving course with an instructor. 

“I have been teaching driver’s ed for a long time,” said Mr. Claahsen, “I have been in the classroom, behind the wheel, and taught at the DMV. I know the first, second, and third steps involved in getting a license.”

With his driving education background, he was approached by the administration about the possibility of being a driver’s ed teacher. Students would only be taught the basics and rules of the road, which would allow them to get their permits. Afterward, they would need to attend another course at a high school where cars are present. The idea was just floated around with nothing official yet, but Mr. Claahsen supports the potential class.

He is also excited for next year. From his first year, he now understands the student nature at MC. He also believes he’s more confident than ever in the way he teaches for the next round of sophomores in US Gov.

So far, Mr. Claahsen enjoys MC. From the fame of athletic programs to the students, he clearly found a place where he’s welcomed.

“The thing that is most impressive to me, working here at MC,” said Mr. Claahsen, “is the dedication our teachers have for their craft. They really like what they do and come to work ready to go. You want to be around people who are positive, and the administration couldn’t be better. They have been very supportive of everything I have done. So as long as that continues, I would love to continue to work here.”

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About the Contributor
Jack Breakey ’24
Jack Breakey ’24, Staff Writer
John “Jack” Breakey is a Senior at Mount Carmel High School. Jack resides on the South Side of Chicago in the Morgan Park neighborhood. He also attended grammar school in the neighborhood at St. Cajetan School.  Jack is a member of Caravan Broadcasting Network as their Senior Producer and also a member of the MC Model UN club and a Peer Leader. Outside of school, he’s a member of the Chicago Fire Department Gold Badge Society. For hobbies, Jack enjoys bike riding, watching movies, playing video games, and researching government. One of Jack’s favorite pastimes is listening to music. He is a large fan of rock and roll, especially Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Buffett, and the genre of bluegrass. This influence came from his father, Thomas Breakey, Mount Carmel class of 1982, and an active Chicago firefighter. His father has been a large inspiration for Jack, who has become a better man because of his father. Jack's dream job is working in international relations or national security. He researches current world events and conflicts while also being a student of history. Who knows? Jack might become the real Jack Ryan one day.