Teacher of the Year: Mr. Bunte


Every teacher you’ll meet in your life will have differing approaches to their jobs. However, every once in a blue moon a teacher comes around that isn’t there just to do a job.

They truly care about the subject they cover, and the students in their classes. They want people to learn, excel and prosper. Morton Ranch is lucky enough to have exactly that with the teacher of the year: Mr. Darren Bunte.

Mr. Bunte is an AP World History teacher at the school, and he is well-known for being one of the most passionate and caring teachers, not only at Morton Ranch but in the entire district. He puts more thought into his lesson planning and tutorial sessions than any teacher I’ve met.

Ever since a young age, Bunte has been passionate about two things: sports and history. While most students could assume the latter, most may not know that Bunte actually coaches for baseball and golf at the school as well. In fact, he had planned on heading down the more sport-oriented route when he was younger.

“My cousin was like the brother I never had, and he had a really strong desire to be a head football coach; our plan was to coach together,” Bunte said.  “When I got to college, everything changed for me. I realized how truly passionate I was about history and political science.”

College may have been where Mr. Bunte decided to go down the history route, but his passion had begun where his educational career begun: elementary.

“I’ve always loved history,” Bunte explained, noting how he always checked out books from the library about history. “My favorite subject to learn about was Ancient Greece and Rome. After school, I would even pretend to be a Roman gladiator in my backyard. Even today, nothing makes me happier than traveling and learning about different cultures. When I drive to school or home to visit my family, I always listen to history podcasts. My favorite history podcast is ‘12 Byzantine Rulers’ by Lars Brownwort.”

Any student that has had Mr. Bunte as their teacher knows they got a fantastic educator for the year. His dedicated teaching ethics that make him so great come from his family and the teachers he had over the years.

“One professor who really inspired me was Dr. Germaine Walsh,” he said. “I took her American Political Thought and Constitutional Law classes.  She was by far the toughest professor I ever had, but her work ethic and knowledge in the subject area really inspired me. The other professor was Dr. Judith Dykes-Hoffman. Everyday she would have students lined-up outside of her office just to speak to her. She was so good at building relationships and inspiring students to push themselves. Dr. Dykes-Hoffman always made you believe that you were capable of doing great things. I knew after taking her class that I wanted to be that kind of teacher.”

Having students line-up, spilling out of the classroom is something Mr. Bunte is very familiar with. His infamous tutorials constantly have students flock to them in droves, so much so that they usually have to wait in the hall for a bit before being able to funnel into the class. This is for good reason though; those students know that their time waiting will be well spent getting to attend a study session with him.

Current and past WHAP students can largely attest to the fact that Mr. Bunte’s teaching is what got them to pass the class and do well on their tests. They pretty much owe their success in that field to him. According to Bunte, the feeling is mutual.

“I feel at home at Morton Ranch; the students here is what really makes this place special,” he said. “I can honestly say that I owe any success to my hard working students, especially my first year teaching AP World History, because I really felt like some of them were teaching me.”

He also gives props to the administration and other teachers in their influence on his success.

“I also love the very supportive administration and faculty here,” Bunte added.  “I really like how they trust you, and you have freedom to teach the way you want.”

Bunte said one teacher he has learned a lot from is Mr. Wendell Ishee.

“He has really helped me understand how to run an AP class and how to teach essay writing,” he said.

I don’t think a single student of his can think of ways Mr. Bunte could be more efficient in his classes, yet he still gets self-analytical and reviews himself and  his lesson plans. That is how he is able to consistently teach so well. He’s always building on the foundation he’s laid out.

“Every year I think back to the previous year, and I realize so many lessons that I could have been prepared better,” Bunte said. “I really feel like I am still learning as a teacher. There are so many great teachers on this campus.”

When finally asked about winning the award, Mr. Bunte once again proved why he is such a good teacher with his answer.

“I am very honored and humbled by the award,” he said. “The main thing that matters to me is what my students think, and doing the best job I can for them is always going to be my biggest reward.”

Mr. Bunte may love Ancient Greece, baseball and gladiators, but most of all he loves his students. He cares for their education and personal growth and values that over all else. He is a passionate man, very caring and with an amazing gift to educate.

Thank you Mr. Bunte for being the paragon of what a teacher should be. Morton Ranch is lucky to have you.