Thanks to his extraordinary efforts inside and outside the classroom, a Fox Valley teacher will be honored at Tuesday’s All-Star Game.
All-Star Teacher Eric Vander Loop is one of 30 winners headed to Minneapolis Sunday to be included in All-Star Week.
It’s no secret Vander Loop is crazy about baseball.
“Pop flys. What’s gonna happen on pop flys?” Vander Loop queried his team on a Kaukauna field.
During the summer, the Woodland School 5th grade teacher coaches youngsters.
“Thatta boy, Jonah,” complimented Vander Loop.
He also coaches Kimberly High School’s baseball team.
“I’ve always loved baseball. And it taught me so much about how to be a good educator, and a great parent and those types of things. So I think the ball diamond is the perfect place to be,” explained Vander Loop.
That’s why he can’t wait for Tuesday when he’ll walk out on Target Field during the All-Star game pre-game ceremony.
“I’m just flattered, and I’m humbled, and honored to just be part of such a big thing,” said Vander Loop.
Fans nationwide cast their votes at AllStarTeachers.com to select 30 winners from a pool of 90 finalists.
Vander Loop took one of the top spots. He’ll represent the Milwaukee Brewers.
“I get to walk on the field wearing a Brewers jersey. I always thought it would be me playing, but I guess I’ll accept walking out wearing it to be able to watch the All-Star Game,” said Vander Loop.
Vander Loop’s passion for teaching and above-and-beyond approach with students scored him the honor.
“The first thing I’ll tell them is when you leave this classroom at the end of the year, I don’t care if you’re the best math student, the best reading student, writing student,” said Vander Loop.
He feels if he’s able to teach students that they can make a difference in the world, the rest will follow.
“I always tell them if you walk out of there a better person, then I’m the greatest teacher on the planet,” said Vander Loop.
“We call him Mr. Looper by the way,” explained Betsy Wisneski.
She is the woman behind Vander Loop’s leap to the big leagues.
“What’s funny Laura is, I didn’t, had no clue he liked baseball at all,” said Wisneski.
But Wisneski had taken note of the impression Vander Loop made on her grandchildren in the classroom. So she nominated him.
“A big part of it also was Mr. Looper’s “Unless” program, and the struggle he went through and his students went through,” said Wisneski.
Six years ago, Vander Loop created the program which has raised more than 100 thousand dollars to fight cancer.
He started it when he found out that a student’s mother and a family friend both had Stage 4 lung cancer.
Students throughout the district stepped up to help.
“He’s a great guy and anything that he stands behind, I’m willing to stand behind with him,” said Kimberly High School junior Sam Wisneski.
The theme for the “Unless” effort is a line from Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
“I thought, what a great thing to teach 5th graders,” said Betsy Wisneski.
Vander Loop says topping this grand slam achievement poses both a challenge and an opportunity to grow.
“The weird part is trying to fill my own shoes now. I’ll reflect a lot on what this means to me, and I’ll take that and infuse it into what I do as a teacher and it’ll make me better,” said Vander Loop.
And there’s more! He was also chosen to be featured in People magazine.
“They came out to Woodland and did a photo shoot,” said Vander Loop.
Vander Loop and a couple dozen students involved with the “Unless” program posed for the cameras.
Looking into the lens, Vander Loop finds himself looking back on the last 15 years as an educator.
“You start to reflect and realize the connections that you’ve made, and the opportunities that you’ve had to make a difference in the lives of kids. I’m blessed. I’m very fortunate to be able to do that every day,” said Vander Loop.
The All-Star game at Target Field will air on FOX 11 on July 15th.