Get To Know Mr. Vanwinkle!


Princess Reema

Mr. Van Winkle

Reema Hassan and Lubanah Alayoubi

The Hawthorne High School journalism classes have successfully created the school newspaper, The Clarion, for the last 17 years. 17 years ago, a very special teacher joined the faculty group here at HHS. With the many talents that he has, writing is his most appreciated in the school. Mr. Van Winkle, our HHS journalism teacher, answered a few questions regarding his background as a teacher, husband, and father.


Clarion reporter: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How long have you been teaching in HHS?

Mr. Van Winkle: My name is Sean Van Winkle, I’m currently 48 years old….I will be 49 on November 8th. I have lived in NJ my whole life and I love my daughter, my wife, and the NY Yankees and Pittsburgh Steelers. I grew up in Hawthorne and I still live here…I didn’t go to HHS…we moved to Elmwood Park for my high school years and then back to Hawthorne again. I have been a teacher here at HHS for the past 17 years. I am also a part time professor at Passaic County Community College…I have been there for 18 years.


Clarion Reporter:What inspired you to be a journalism teacher?

Mr. Van Winkle:  I had worked as a journalist before I was a teacher. I had written for the Hawthorne Press for 10 years, covering the Hawthorne Court, writing feature stories, writing police reports…you name it, I did it. I also wrote for the college newspaper at William Paterson University. Basically, there was no inspiration….I was told I was teaching journalism because of my background in the field.


Clarion Reporter: In what ways do you encourage creativity in your classroom?

Mr. Van Winkle: Creativity is the key. I always want students to write about a topic that they enjoy or fascinates them. It’s tough to be creative when writing articles (just the facts will do) but that can still be done in a creative way.


Clarion Reporter: Describe what you would like to see in a student’s article?

Mr. Van Winkle: I want the facts of the story presented in a typical article format. I love clever headlines….and I love papers that are well written, expertly edited, and properly proofread.


Clarion Reporter: What are your expectations for all your classes?

Mr. Van Winkle: My expectations for all of my classes, whether Journalism or Film are simple….be respectful to me (the teacher) and everyone around you. Two, simply do your work. If you do both of those things, then the class runs very smoothly….and a smooth classroom is a happy one. I take pride in the fact that my classes are so respectful and relaxed.


Clarion Reporter: What is your main goal as a journalism teacher?

Mr. Van Winkle: My main goal is to get as many people to write for The Clarion. I want all HHS students to take the Journalism class at some point, so that everyone contributes to The Clarion. It’s all about the paper my friends….I want The Clarion to be the best school newspaper in the state!