Lane Hakel is going to shake out his tent and head to the Rocky Mountains this summer rather than plan classroom lessons for the new school year.
Hakel retired as a teacher at Bowling Green Middle School at the end of June.
He taught social studies, first at Kenwood Elementary and then at the middle school, for 22 years.
Hakel started with the fourth grade at Kenwood, then moved to the sixth grade at the elementary when a teacher retired. He moved with the class to the middle school in 2012.
He said he taught fifth grade English for 11 years before coming to Bowling Green, first in Chillicothe for 10 years then one year in Columbus.
“They’re all less different than you would think, in a lot of ways,” Hakel said about the different grades. “The cool part is, even here at the middle school, they’re young enough that they’ll listen to you some and they’re old enough they will understand what I’m trying to tell them and my sense of humor.”
Hakel said he hated school while he was a kid, especially sixth grade.
In college, he earned a bachelor’s degree at Ohio State University in international studies with a focus on East Asia. His hope to work in a diplomatic corps was halted due to the poor health of his first wife. Going abroad was out of the question. So, he started looking around for something else.
As Hakel was considering teaching, he recalled being a camp counselor, but — like going to elementary school — not liking it.
“It almost scared me off of teaching.”
When remembering how unmotivated he was in school, Hakel thought maybe he had a better shot of reaching similar kids than someone who went through school with the dream of being a teacher.
“That clicked for me, and I’d like to think that it worked, that I have brought that perspective,” he said. “I can sure relate to the unmotivated kid in my room.”
His favorite phrase the last few years is “Smart is not something you are. Smart is something you get.”
Hakel got his master’s degree in education and teacher’s license from OSU as well.
Growing up, his family traveled all over and he spent part of a school year in Italy and was an exchange student in New Zealand.
“By the time I was 16, I’d been to 48 of the 50 states with my parents.”
When he was 18, Hakel bicycled across the U.S., camping the entire two months.
He got to Mississippi and Alabama in his 30s, while chaperoning a student trip.
“You have to want to go to Mississippi and Alabama. It’s not on the way from Ohio (to anywhere).”
Now that he is retired, “I have this acting habit that I’m going to keep up with.”
He is hoping to monetize that skill by becoming an audio book reader.
“All those years of reading aloud to my fourth, fifth and sixth graders after recess … I really enjoyed that. That was my favorite part of the day.”
Hakel has been with the Black Swamp Players for 20 years this summer.
The local theater group was one of the things he was excited about when his family moved from Columbus.
Since his first appearance is “Nell of the Ozarks,” Hakel has appeared in 80 productions in Northwest Ohio.
“It’s fun,” he said in explaining why he has kept at it.
“Each production is a little community that comes together with a united purpose.”
It is an interesting challenge and something that has helped him figure out his own self-worth, Hakel said.
He prefers to be on stage rather than backstage and said it is not much different than being in front of a classroom.
“It you aren’t performing at a certain level as a teacher, you’re not going to hold anyone’s interest let alone your own.”
He especially enjoys the times in the classroom or on stage where he can tell, because of the quiet or laughter in the room, that he is doing something that everyone is engaged in.
“Teaching is normally a solo performance. You know when they’re there and when they’re not there. And when they’re there, that energy … is really cool.”
Hakel has appeared in productions with the Toledo Rep and Village Players as well as dinner theater at First United Methodist Church.
He plans on spending three weeks hiking and camping out west this summer, and is looking forward to vacationing out of season.
Hakel would not choose which he favored: teaching or acting.
“I am a teacher and I’m really proud of it.”
He said what he will miss most is saying “I am a teacher” rather than “I was a teacher.”