The teacher’s pets that most people don’t know about

Teachers talk about their lives with animals

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The teacher’s pets that most people don’t know about

The Lundemo bunnies Walnut (left) and Tegan (right). (Photo courtesy of Mary Lundemo)

The Lundemo bunnies Walnut (left) and Tegan (right). (Photo courtesy of Mary Lundemo)

The Lundemo bunnies Walnut (left) and Tegan (right). (Photo courtesy of Mary Lundemo)

The Lundemo bunnies Walnut (left) and Tegan (right). (Photo courtesy of Mary Lundemo)

Zoe Bodovinitz, Staff Reporter

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As students, we don’t think too much into our teacher’s lives. We only care when they are available to go over that homework question or if they’ve graded the latest test. On closer inspection, teachers are a lot more like us than one would think. Specifically in their love for something many students can relate to: their pets.

Take a walk through the science pod and you’ll find some pretty interesting subjects taught by some pretty cool teachers. But you’ll also find a bunch of unordinary animals. Specifically in the classrooms of science teachers India Carlson, Noam Gundle and Nell Niewiadomski.

Between Gundle’s ball python, Danger Noodle, who unfortunately died earlier this month, and the fish tanks filled with saltwater and freshwater fish in Niewiadomski’s room, many different species of pets have lived inside the school. None are quite as interesting as those hiding out inside Carlson’s classroom.

“There is a fire belly salamander in here, two leopard geckos and an abundance of fish,” Carlson said. Sally, the salamander, and Serphina and Steppenwolf, the geckos, are as a part of the classroom environment as the students are. “I’ve had animals since I’ve been in this room and I’ve been in this room for 10 years,” Carlson said.

Science teacher Nell Niewiadomski has many pets in her classroom. She inherited many of her animals from former teacher Megan Vogel. (Miles Whitworth)

A former teacher, Megan Vogel, who sadly passed away in 2012, left a legacy of animals behind in the science department. “The geckos and the salamander came from Megan Vogel, who used to be a teacher here. She had a whole ton of animals, a ton. When she died, I took over and found homes for all of Megan’s animals,” Carlson said. Niewiadomski inherited Vogel’s large fish tanks as well.

Having animals in the classroom makes for some some pretty exciting days like the time Steppenwolf escaped from his tank. “He was out in this room for two days. They’re not supposed to be able to climb, I still don’t actually know how he did that,” Carlson said.

It also makes for fun opportunities for students who may not experience those kinds of animals outside of school. “Quite a few times I’ve had the Special Education Department ask me if I would let Special Ed students, who are not in mainstream classrooms, come in and take care of the animals,” Carlson said. “So I’ve done that and I’ve had quite a few students who are not my students at all, meet me and become friends with me because I have animals in my room.”

Having pets inside the classroom is not for every teacher of course, but that doesn’t stop them from loving their animals at home. Math teacher Kaitlyn Lundemo and special education assistant Mary Lundemo share their home with two bunnies, Tegan and Walnut.

They have had a total of three bunnies. They started with Tegan and Toby, but Toby passed and now Tegan is ‘on her second husband’ as they like to say. “Tegan’s really lovey-dovey, just super cuddly, and wants love all the time. And then Walnut is like ‘don’t touch me, get away from me,’” Kaitlyn Lundemo said. “A lot of people think rabbits are like hamsters where they don’t really have a personality but they have a lot of personality. Now that we’ve had three together you can see how different each one is,” Mary Lundemo said.

The teachers have made it so the rabbits are a big part of their lives at home. “I built them this little condo that they live in when we’re not at home, but when we come home they can be free. Tegan prefers to just lounge in the condo, but Walnut adventures around our house all the time,” Mary Lundemo said. “He’s chewed through our cell phone cords like three times,” Kaitlyn Lundemo said.

They have even trained the bunnies to respond to different claps. “We used clapping on Tegan to train her when she does something bad, so she knows right away. Where Walnut’s like ‘you’re clapping? Cool!’” Kaitlyn Lundemo said. “This sounds really crazy, but I have trained Walnut with this special clapping rhythm so that it’s not loud enough to scare Tegan or him but it’s a rhythm that when I do it, he knows it’s time to go to bed,” Mary Lundemo said. “Their least favorite day of the week is Sunday because we love the Seahawks so there’s a lot of clapping and yelling and they get very upset.”

The teachers share responsibilities when it comes to the rabbits. Particularly when feeding them, even though their techniques are pretty different. “I don’t know the portions so I usually give them too much and then get yelled at,” Kaitlyn Lundemo said. “She gave them like a whole bag of lettuce the other day,” Mary Lundemo said. “That’s like three days worth!”

So whether it’s furry critters at home or interesting creatures in the classroom, teachers have a lot of room in their hearts for their pets. Sit down with your teachers and ask about their animals. You might just find some similarities between your life and theirs.

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