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The Communicator

Staff Spotlight: Robert Lavelanet

Gathering a better understanding of a beloved CHS staff member, Robert Lavelanet.
Piper Cooke

The ingenuity Robert Lavelanet brings to the classroom is infectious – but who is this educator we have grown to know and love?

Lavelanet’s call to teaching is personal. He has two grandparents who are passionate educators, from whom Lavelanet has drawn inspiration and adopted their understandings into his own life and career path.

After his traditional high school experience, Lavelanet’s college education journey began at the University of Michigan but took an unexpected turn over a phone call with his mom during his junior year.

“My mom said to me, ‘What are you doing?’ and I said, ‘I don’t know, you know, just kind of thinking about it’…she did not think that was a very good answer,” Lavelanet said, “So then my mom said, ‘Why don’t you go into education?’ and I said, ‘Okay.'”

Lavelanet’s experience with both teaching and learning has taught him many things and has left him with a sagacious perspective.

“Teaching is a lot like singing,” Lavelanet said, “You can be a really good bluegrass artist. But some people don’t like bluegrass. You might be the best History teacher in the world, but some people just don’t like history. It’s not their cup of tea; they’re not here for it.”

Teaching has taken Lavelanet many places and allowed him to work with a handful of influential mentors, including Chloe Root, the head of the history department at CHS and a fantastic teacher.

Root’s first impression of Lavelanet was from a talent show hosted by BSU (Black Student Union), which Lavelanet participated in while still working as a student teacher at CHS. Root vividly recalls Lavelanet’s incredible disco dancing skills, which left a playful first impression and became a catalyst for a great friendship.

“I could tell that we were going to be good buds,” Root said, “He is now one of my best friends on staff…Our school is really lucky to have him.” In Root’s recounting, Lavelanet’s infectious energy shines through, illustrating his impact on our school community.

“I was always really good at English in high school – then I took my first English class at U of M,” Lavelent said. “I wrote my first essay and got a C minus. My professor was like, ‘It was terrible and boring,'” From this adverse experience, Lavelanet was able to see the value in choice and the benefit in failure.

From this life lesson, he has been about to implement an alternative grading system, which he discovered from a U of M presentation earlier in his career.

“I think failure, and failing safely is really important to everyone, especially students,” Lavelanet said.

While Lavelanet has very stylish outfits and funny jokes, he also has copious amounts of insight to offer.

“The world is a very strange place,” Lavelanet said, “it’s really easy to get bogged down in this mundane day-to-day stuff…But it’s also important to remember just how much life you have. Because isn’t everything so fascinating?”

Lavelanet is urging his students to be curious. Embrace everything because all of us are so lucky to be here. At CHS, we are surrounded by amazing people, go talk to them, meet people, and understand how amazing the world is.

As an educator, Lavelanet is deeply committed to fostering an environment of growth, curiosity, and resilience. Drawing inspiration from his mentors and experience, Lavelanet’s teaching philosophy is characterized by empathy and emphasis on the importance of individualized learning experiences. In Robert Lavelanet, we encounter not merely a teacher but a guide who invites us to navigate the uncertainties of life with courage, humility, and an insatiable thirst for knowledge.

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