Our New English Teacher Mr. Gretsky

Victor Mazur, Leisure Editor

Zachary Gretsky came to Vestal High School this summer. With a love of literature and teaching, he is a perfect fit for our school. He came all the way from Nashville, Tennessee back to the state where he grew up. Both he and his wife, another teacher, wanted the best possible school environment. Vestal’s reputation proved to be incredibly far-stretching, as many, many people recommended the district. Mr. Gretsky applied to be an English teacher, and now teaches English 12, English 12 IB, and English 11. 

However, Mr. Gretsky wasn’t always focusing on English. At Elmira College and later Vanderbilt University he was able to get degrees in both social studies and English. This came about from his interest in art. As a child, Mr. Gretzky had a fascination with creative, abstract worlds. He fell in love with The Hobbit and science fiction, but also had a drive for a deeper grasp of fantasy. In high school, he understood and loved novels like Lord of the Flies commonly disliked by young people, setting him apart as someone who not only loved artful stories but was also able to comprehend more nuanced ideas and themes. And so Mr. Gretsky went to college to study literature, continuously learning about new art and analysis and gaining an appreciation for historical texts and other types of writing that even he was not always connected with. Thus he was able to work with more than just books: history and teaching worked their way in. 

All this highlights Mr. Gretsky’s depth of analysis. He was able to take his love for fantasy all the way to history. Mr. Gretsky is also more than an analytical teacher. He adores venturing into nature through hiking, often traveling to the Adirondack Mountains, sometimes multiple times a year. His life in Tennessee separated him from the mountains, but living in New York again, he will be close enough to resume his old habits. The nearby Catskills and smaller, local hills also fascinate Mr. Gretsky. He spends even more time exploring all the landscapes much closer to our area, due to the lengthy 5-hour drive to the Adirondacks. 

 Mr. Gretsky grew up with the mountains in the same way he fell in love with literature, joining the Boy Scouts of America and spending a lot of time deep in the woods all around New York. Nature and literature even go hand to hand in their draw on young Mr. Gretsky. Hiking and exploring, he was able to capture the adventurous spirit of his beloved written fantasies. Now, as an adult, the mountains contain the spirit of the emotion of art in general, capturing the complexity he has come to admire.

Both parts of Mr. Gretsky is secondary in the classroom. When he comes back to work from his exciting journeys, he focuses on class interaction with the sharing and diversifying of perspectives on literature, so young people may learn to have the appreciation for art that he cherishes. Out of the classroom, he has gained a connection with the Vestal community. Every student and instructor has helped Mr. Gretsky to feel incredibly welcome. Notably, Mr. Malejs has been presented during free hours as well as before and after school to offer assistance, but Mr. Gretsky would also like to thank every individual person he has interacted with. WIthout them, he wouldn’t be able to share his perspectives on literature and flourish as a teacher.

Everything ends up relating with Mr. Gretsky. His trip to Vestal, his journey through education, his love for art and hiking, and his appreciation of the Vestal community all are connected to one another, creating someone incredibly diverse who perfectly completes Vestal High School. Any conversation or teaching lesson with Mr. Gretsky can bring about something new and interesting. He has lots more to share, whether it’s his interesting take on the ongoing debate of books vs. movies or his love for two books which are part of his curriculum: Fahrenheit 451 and Into the Wild.  If you would like to welcome him or spring up an interesting conversation, look for him in the English resource room. Hopefully we can all get a chance to interact with our wonderful new addition to Vestal High School.