Staff Member of the Month: Erbach looks to inspire young journalists and all students
Dane Erbach didn’t always feel that his high school experience was reflected in student publications. A percussionist who played with a youth orchestra as well as a band of peers, Erbach left school thinking he’d done some interesting things that went unnoticed.
Now, as a McHenry High School English teacher, former yearbook advisor and current McHenry Messenger advisor, Erbach tries to be as inclusive as possible while mentoring young journalists. He encourages all students to pursue their dreams regardless of whether those dreams include journalism.
“I want my kids to feel like they can go all in on what they’re passionate about,” Erbach said.
His efforts to encourage inclusion and passion -- in the classroom and in student publications -- have not gone unnoticed by his students. In his dozen nominations for West Campus Staff Member of the Month for May, it was noted repeatedly that Erbach makes an effort to connect with all students.
“Everyone who I'm in class with always talks about how much they enjoy his class,” said Elijah Nothdorf, Class of 2023. “He is always making learning fun, and I do learn a lot from his class because the way he teaches makes it memorable.”
Niki Myers, Class of 2022, said Erbach has helped her through some rough patches, and inspired her to improve as a writer.
“Everyone has that one teacher they remember for their whole life and I think Mr. Erbach is one of those teachers to a lot of people,” Myers said.
Erbach, who teaches English, journalism, cultural studies and creative writing, said he realizes that not all students will go on to pursue writing-related careers. But he hopes to inspire all students to follow their dreams.
A Fox River Grove native, Erbach went to Lake Forest College to major in English and secondary education, and wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper. As a student teacher in the North Shore, he got to know the children of Chicago basketball legend Michael Jordan.
In addition to a bachelor’s degree, Erbach has a master’s degree in applied professional studies-writing, from DePaul University.
He took over the Warrior yearbook shortly after coming to McHenry in 2008. Erbach switched to advising the McHenry Messenger student publication this past school year -- its first full year.
The student newspaper earned several awards from the Illinois Journalism Education Association, including first place in their division for best news website.
Here is the video announcing Erbach’s award.
This concludes the first year for McHenry’s Staff Member of the Month program. Each month during the 2019-20 school year, a staff member from East Campus and West Campus is selected for going above and beyond for students and fellow MCHS staff members.
Winners get a $50 gift certificate to either Meat and Potato Eatery or Brunch Cafe. MCHS appreciates the support of our business partners.