SHARE
Leo Schlueter and his father, Prof. Nathan Schlueter, enjoy some quality father-son bonding time. Courtesy: Leo Schlueter

Few stu­dents at Hillsdale ever mix up the words “pro­fessor” and “dad.” But everyone has a friend whose parent teaches here, so what is it really like to take a class taught by your own father?

“It turns out he’s actually a really good teacher,” said sophomore Leo Schlueter, who weighed in with seven other “prof kids” about their expe­ri­ences both in and out of the classroom. 

The majority of them have taken a class taught by their dads — from one credits to three semesters worth.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime oppor­tunity,” said sophomore Peter Kalthoff, who took his father for Western Her­itage and American Her­itage. “A lot of people think I’m crazy for it, but I wanted to see his per­spective on teaching and ended up loving it.”

Schlueter agreed and remarked that it was a no brainer.

“It would have been pretty lame to not take my dad,” he said. 

Sophomore Josie Miller didn’t have to, but she “just wanted to be able to answer when people asked me if my father is a good pro­fessor.”

Senior Claire Calvert said she was a bit more hes­itant to sign up for a history class with her dad.

“Every semester he asked me when I was gonna take one of his classes,” she said. “And every time, I told him, ‘I’m just not gonna put in the effort you want Dad, I’m sorry.’”

She caved for her last semester and is auditing his Ancient Rome course. “It’s been really good and a lot of fun,” she said.

Inside the classroom, each pro­fessor has a dif­ferent approach to how they treat their child. 

Kaltoff said Pro­fessor and Chairman of History Mark Kalthoff didn’t make it obvious on the first day and read his son’s name like everyone else’s on the atten­dance sheet.

“I think we had this mutual idea that we’d keep it secret,” Kalthoff said. “No one knew for a while.” 

Sopho­mores Josie Miller and Ruth Moreno both said their dads didn’t draw too much attention to them either; however, this wasn’t always the case. 

“He roasts me so much,” said Calvert. “He always just slides some­thing in there.”

She said the other stu­dents in the class are either highly enter­tained or very annoyed. 

Occa­sionally, lec­tures bring more real­iza­tions than just having John Locke’s argu­ments click. 

“Some­times I’ll be sitting there in a lecture, and all of a sudden, I’m back at the dinner table from my youth hearing him say, ‘Either you’re going to govern yourself or you’re going to be gov­erned by your pas­sions,’” Kalthoff said. “My gosh, he’s been feeding me American Her­itage lec­tures my whole life.”

Their parents received high praise in the inter­views, espe­cially Pro­fessor of Phi­losophy and Religion Nathan Schlueter, whose son is cur­rently enrolled in his third class with his father. 

“I’ve sub­scribed hard to the Dr. Schlueter brand,” Schlueter said. “It’s been nice because my dad is just a very smart indi­vidual.”

Kalthoff said he under­stands why other stu­dents like his dad’s class now. 

“I heard great things from other stu­dents, too,” Kalthoff said. “He really has great things to say.”

Many vented about how much of what their dads say in other classes gets back to them. 

“Random people would come up to me and say, ‘Are you Dr. Rahe’s daughter?’” said Junior Antonia Rahe, who expe­ri­enced this fre­quently her freshman year. 

She said they’d share a story and ask if it was about her, to which she would grudg­ingly nod her head.

“As soon as I matric­u­lated to this college, he started telling stories about me,” she said. 

Schlueter said he hears about his dad’s com­ments from others because he doesn’t say them when his son is in class. 

“I hear stories all the time,” he said. “Dad, if you can hear me, not cool.”

He said his dad tells his classes that “I’m talking about one of my children” and doesn’t specify which.

“Everybody kind of knows he’s talking about me,” Schlueter said. “Or maybe it’s worse because they all just assume it’s me when it isn’t.”

Sophomore Michael Craig has learned a lot about his dad from friends relaying his lec­tures, including the fact that his dad is a West Coast rap fan. 

“I get to hear every­thing that my dad said that he shouldn’t have,” he said with a laugh. “Dad, you can’t be saying these things.”

Miller said her father “only uses a red pen to grade,” despite how much she has protested against it.

“I have told him for years that he should use a more pleasant color if he is going to use that much, such as a nice purple or orange,” Miller said. “But he is stuck in his ways, and I give everyone my greatest sym­pathy that encounters the wrath of his red pen.”

Many of them said they have good mem­ories from the classes. 

“I came into class late one time for a review session and left early,” Craig said. “He gave me a lot of grief behind my back and told the class that he didn’t raise me right.”

Miller and her friends still laugh about a memory from her dad’s sports writing class when he couldn’t get a video to work. 

“John J is not the most tech-savvy person you will ever meet,” she said. “So when it would not play and he could not figure it out, he dis­missed class in a quite frus­trated mood. I had a few friends in the class and all we could do is laugh.”

Rahe said she even has mem­ories from her days attending the Hillsdale Academy. 

“Some­times if I was coming back and it was really snowing and I didn’t want to walk home, I’d walk to my dad’s office and fall asleep on his office floor,” she said. “I’d wake up to him in office hours with a student.”

Outside of the classroom, the Morenos recall how they run into their dad around campus.

“My boyfriend and I will be taking a walk and see Dad sitting there on a bench,” Ruth Moreno said. “Hey Dad.”

Her brother, freshman Greg Moreno, expe­ri­ences the same thing.

“I do see him around campus,” he said. “I don’t know whether to say hi or hide some­where.”

A perk of being a “prof kid” is having rela­tion­ships with many of the other pro­fessors on campus.

“That’s probably the weirder part,” Greg Moreno said. “Just how many of the pro­fessors I know.”

Craig said he reg­u­larly plays bas­ketball with some pro­fessors. 

“I took Dr. Jackson’s Great Books class and told him I was going to meet him on the bas­ketball court and give him grief for making me do all that work,” said Craig, who also plays games with Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Math­e­matics Samuel Webster and Assistant Pro­fessor of Math­e­matics Mark Panaggio. “It’s not very fair, since they’re just there for exercise, and I’m there to run it up.”

While they have funny stories and inter­esting friend­ships, “prof kids” are just normal stu­dents. 

“My dad treats me just like any other student,” Kalthoff said. “I still go to his office hours if I have a question.”

There are mis­con­cep­tions about having a pro­fessor parent, but all eight prof kids said they aren’t true.

“Pro­fessors’ kids don’t have a big upper hand,” Kalthoff said. “Some­times it’s just a little bit more fun.”