Interview with Todd Wallenius

Published by Leila Gant ('13) and Izzy Bank ('13) 0n December 15, 2011 This year SAAS has welcomed many new faculty members, including history teacher Todd Wallenius. Along with teaching history, Todd coaches boys’ soccer and basketball. The blonde Californian is very passionate about seeing his students learn new things; his fresh and young teaching style engages SAAS students in an amazing way. Todd was born and raised in a small beach town near San Diego, along with his younger sister and his dog, Flash. After graduating Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA, Todd knew he wanted to pursue a job in teaching his favorite subject, history. He moved to Seattle and has been living here for a year and a half.

Todd’s Favorites:

Sport to watch?

Soccer, definitely. I am way into soccer. I played in high school, college, and for a minor league team of the Sounders. I watch soccer highlights all the time now from England or Spain.

Ice cream flavor?

Mint chocolate chip.

Book that you’ve read recently?

Love and the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He’s a great Spanish author.

Favorite childhood book?

All the Places You’ll Go, by Dr. Seuss, is a classic.

Favorite place in Seattle?

I really like Capitol Hill a lot, like Cal Anderson Park or Volunteer Park.

Favorite season (in general)?

I’d have to say summer. I grew up in San Diego so I’m just used to these epic summers of going to the beach all day.

All-time favorite movie?

Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, or Inception.

Favorite TV show as a kid?


Kind of animal (real or imaginary)?

Probably a dragon.

General Questions:

Q: Do you have any siblings?

A: I have a younger sister, she’s twenty, and she’s…cool. She’s studying abroad in Madrid right now.

Q: Did you have any pets as a child?

A: Yeah, I had dogs. I don’t have a pet now. I miss my pets. I had a dog named Flash, but he was run over by a car when I was a kid. We had to bury him in our front yard.

Q: What were your favorite bands growing up? What bands are you into now?

A: In high school, my favorite band was Modest Mouse. Now, I don’t know; I like a lot of music. I’m really into music. Recently, I’ve been getting into Shabazz Palaces, a Seattle hip-hop duo.

Q: What schools did you go to for high school and college?

A: I went to San Dieguito Academy.  It was a public school with lots of people and definitely a different culture from SAAS. Then, I went to Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, which is much more similar to what SAAS is like.

Fun Questions:

Q: Do you have any significant role models or people who inspire you?

A: I would probably say my parents; I really admire my mom a lot. Also, I had a high school history teacher, and he was my soccer coach as well. Ever since then I’ve wanted to be a history teacher and soccer coach as well. His name is Mr. Hrzina.

Q: What is the most embarrassing moment that you can remember from your high school experience?

A: I just remember lots of people at my high school had long hair, including the guys. So, I had long hair, and my dad always told me that I had to get a haircut. One day, he just grabbed me and cut straight across my bangs. I had to go play a soccer game with long hair and no bangs. I warmed up in a beanie, but then I had to take it off and go socialize with this weird-looking haircut.

Q: If you could own any exotic animal, real or imaginary, what would it be?

A: A hammerhead shark.

Q: Where do you see yourself in ten years?

A: In ten years, I see myself probably still teaching.

Q: Did you have any weird phases in high school that you can remember?

A: I’ve had phases. However, I don’t consider them phases because they’re very much a part of who I am. I definitely had a skater phase in middle school and at the beginning of high school. As I got into soccer I had less time for skating though.

Q: How long have you lived in Seattle? What do you like and dislike about it?

A: I’ve been in Seattle for a year and a half. I really like Seattle. It has great stuff to offer in terms of art, culture, and music. There are lots of great events going on in terms of that. I think we have the highest rate of educated people, which creates an overall more intellectual city, which I like. I think it’s a really beautiful place, and there are some good restaurants too. I dislike the traffic and no longer drive anywhere because of it. My SAAS experience has been great so far. The students have been really welcoming. It’s been a whirlwind; it’s been really busy. There’s something so special about the community and the culture, which I am very happy to be a part of.

Q: Who was your first celebrity crush?

A: Britney Spears was my first celebrity crush. Now, I don’t know. I don’t really follow celebrity stuff anymore.

Q: What are the best and worst parts of being a teacher?

A: The best parts are…I love seeing kids learn. I like starting an activity, and watching the kids discussing and learning, or walking out of a class and having that feeling that it went really well and everyone was engaged. That’s the best feeling. I think the worst thing is grading. It takes so long, way longer than I ever thought it would.