Brookfield East Welcomes Mr. Gruenewald

Shiv Muthpandiyan

Brookfield East welcomes a new social studies teacher, Mr. Eric Gruenewald. He is currently teaching AP US History, 20th Century US History, and Law and Public Policy LAUNCH.

Growing up in a small town, Gruenewald always wanted to be a teacher. “From a pretty young age, I’ve always been working with high school students. When I was 14, I was working with younger kids than here. I started coaching Little League, and that got me [to] experience working with kids and seeing people improve, and being able to use my skills to help them progress on the baseball field. That led me to want to be a teacher, because I see the same improvements being made in the classroom.”

In college, he became friends with someone familiar to Brookfield East. “I went to Maryville University with Mr. Saxton, and I studied history there, just like Mr. Saxton, and we played basketball together, and were roommates.”

In fact, it was this connection that led Gruenewald to take a job at East in the first place, “I was told about the job by Mr. Saxton, who is a friend of mine, and he will also be standing up at my wedding, so we have quite a close relationship.” 

Before returning to Wisconsin, Gruenewald took a job halfway around the world. “I had spent the last two years teaching, in New Zealand, and so that was right before COVID hit, and my fiance and I both got jobs there. I taught at a public school there; it was a great experience.” He says, “ The school was a bit different from here – there were 3,200 students in the school, and I had to learn New Zealand history to teach there.” From there, he had another 6000 mile flight to South Korea to teach ESL for a few years, before finally coming [to Brookfield East].”

As a student himself, Gruenewald was eager to learn, although a little distracted. “I was really good and focused in the classes I was interested in- history, social studies. The other classes, I did alright…  I was always one that was talkative and all over the place. My mind wasn’t always in the content.” However, he has tried to take this experience and use it to help his own students. “Coming up with teaching strategies that keep kids interested and out of their seats is important, because that is what I would have needed as a student.”

His advice for students is to focus, not on GPA, but on the learning itself. “My biggest piece of advice is to try to see education and the schooling process as a learning experience and something that’s going to help you later on. Something that will mold you into who you are as a person. When a teacher assigns something, they have an idea of something you’re supposed to get out of this, and it’s not just so that you get an A. The biggest thing is to actually try to learn something in each activity. You only get what you put into each activity.”

As students head into the new quarter, Gruenewald shares a few words of wisdom moving forward: “if you just put in the time and effort that a lot of students put in the last week or so into the whole year, [and] you spread your studies out, [making it], instead, a year long or unit long process, that is the key to success.”


For more stories about the Brookfield East staff throughout history and today, read the Spartan Banner Fall 2021 Print Edition being released on November 23rd, 2021.