History is the study of the past, particularly of human affairs, and how the actions of one person or a group of people can have countless effects on others. Recorded in documents over time, history shapes the perspectives of the world as students connect the past to current events. Although Lars Trupe does not use a traditional textbook, he teaches AP World History and AP Art History in his own memorable and impactful way with a unique story of his own.
For Trupe, the decision to become a teacher was an obvious one. On his mother’s side, “We were either teachers, farmers or engineers,” he said. “I didn’t want to farm [and] I wasn’t really interested in engineering.”
Before becoming the 42nd teacher in his family, Trupe grew up in Trier, Germany, an old Roman city. Since the local area contains historical influence, Trupe’s interest in the past was sparked by the constant exposure to ancient landmarks and artifacts.
“I grew up around Roman ruins,” Trupe said. “Occasionally when you’re out in the fields, you might come across a Roman coin.”
Since his childhood, Trupe has immersed himself in history, exemplified by his passion for traveling and learning about a wide collection of destinations. Trupe’s most memorable sightseeing spots include Germany, Belgium, France and England.
“I’ve traveled more than a lot of people [have],” Trupe said. “I’ve lived in a lot of places for multiple years.”
Trupe, who has traveled to every continent, has 160 to 170 students and enjoys teaching world history in particular.
“I love Mesoamerica, Medieval Europe, Persia, India [and] China,” Trupe said. “I really don’t have [a favorite]. I like it all.”
Apart from teaching, Trupe also has a passion for music. That he would play an instrument as a child was a forgone conclusion; he was expected to play music until college. Trupe started with the violin, but disliked its tone and wanted to stand out from the other kids. As a result, he eventually picked up the cello instead, playing until he graduated from college in his early twenties.
While he “played pretty much everything in terms of the standard repertoire,” Trupe steered away from composers like Beethoven and Mozart, whom he found to be rather boring and repetitive. Instead, he grew interested in Bartok, as well as 20th century composers like John Cage, Steve Reich and Frank Zappa who worked with atonal and twelve-tone music.
After being rejected by University of Oxford, Trupe earned his bachelor’s degree from University of California, San Diego. A couple years later, he earned his master’s from California State University, Chico, and his interest in jazz was sparked.
“I play jazz and some blues, but it varies,” Trupe said. “I play in two bands, so I keep busy. [I] have a very eclectic taste in music.”
While immersed in the world of jazz, Trupe served in the military to pay off his college loans, and ended up serving for five years, ten months and eight days.
“I grew up in the military, so it was something that I was accustomed to,” Trupe said. “I wouldn’t say it changed me at all.”
After receiving his discharge papers from the military, Trupe began his teaching career as a substitute at TPHS. Ever since, Trupe decided that education was his path in life.
Due to his brutal honesty and humor, Trupe, who has been teaching for 27 years, never fails to make his classes interesting. His philosophy, which is “to make it [class] fun,” includes screaming loudly at unexpected moments, playing his vuvuzela, assigning long articles to read for homework and giving difficult tests.
“I am a difficult teacher,” Trupe said. “I don’t apologize for that at all.”
Even as a demanding teacher, he makes learning history interesting by cracking jokes and capturing his students’ attention with his unique teaching methods.
“The textbook is really old, and [is] in poor shape,” Trupe said. “I think it’s pretty boring, [so] I try to find things that are interesting and still informative for kids to read.”
In addition to nixing the textbook, he is also well-known for his humor and personality. Every day in class, Trupe watches for drowsy students to wake up with his South American vuvuzela (shrill soccer horn) or opportunities to joke and entertain his students.
“I’m big and loud, and I’m obnoxious,” Trupe said. “I was the obnoxious guy who would ask questions sometimes to see if the teacher knew what he was talking about.”
Though Trupe himself wasn’t exactly an ideal student, he believes that his personality prepared him to deal with students similar to his high school self. Outside of the classroom, Trupe is very active, and coaches TPHS badminton.
“When I lived in England, we played [badminton],” Trupe said. “When I was asked [to be the badminton coach] I figured, ‘Okay, I can do this.’”
He said the fast sport helps keep his weight down, as does his other favorite sport: soccer. Trupe plays centerback in a men’s league with the same teammates he’s played with for about 25 years. He says he hates running, “except when it’s on the soccer field.”
Trupe also loves to rock climb when he is not busy. On a typical day, Trupe has soccer, chores and grading to do; however, any free time he can scrape together he invests in rock climbing.]
“I can’t imagine teaching anywhere else,” Trupe said. “It’s worked out pretty well; I met my wife here, got married, had kids [and] worked here for 27 years, so I can’t complain. I have a pretty nice life.”
Had he been accepted into University of Oxford, Trupe would not have come to live in the United States, and history would have been written in a completely different way for both him and all the students who have reveled in his attention.