Cobblers Up Close: Don Snoozy

Math is hard, but finding a sasquatch is harder. Mr. Snoozy would know.

By Brandon Gabert

As I walk into the room, I’m greeted by Mr. Don Snoozy eating his school lunch – one of his daily routines. I see definitions of derivatives and due dates on his board for his Math 2 and AP Calculus classes. Yellow calculators line the wall. The room is always warm, and the window is cracked even in the dead of winter. I ask him if he minds answering a few questions, and he kicks his feet up on his desk and gladly agrees.

Mr. Snoozy was born in Germany due to his family being there for the Army. “I moved over here at one and a half years old,” he said. “I don’t remember much of Germany.” While being raised in the United States, he didn’t know what he was going to do with his life. “I wanted to be everything, I couldn’t make up my mind. I wanted to be a wildlife biologist, a doctor, and a surgeon at the same time. I NEVER thought I would be a teacher. I went to college and found out I didn’t want to be there, I just wanted to make money. But I knew I needed a college education.” Ironically, he has now attended four different colleges and has three college degrees. He has attended University of South Dakota, University of Nebraska Omaha, South Dakota State University, and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. He has degrees in computer programming, psychology, and obviously, mathematics.

Mr. Snoozy has been teaching math for a total of 26 years. He began teaching at Douglas High School, then taught at schools in Michigan, Missouri, and Nebraska. He came back to Rapid City and has been teaching at Central for 11 years. “I have the most fun teaching AP calculus,” he said. “The thing I like most about my job is that I get to teach the way I want to teach. I’ve always loved math, even when I was younger and going through school. ” He has taught AP calculus for four years, but has also taught multiple other math classes like math 2 and pre-calc. His students see him as very relaxed and easygoing. “Snoozy’s one of the chillest guys you’ll ever meet,” AP calculus student Alec Doyle says. “He’s like a koala bear, that’s really good at math.” Mr. Snoozy is inspired by math and his students. “When students work up to their full potential, that inspires me quite a bit.”

While on the topic of inspiration and admiration, I asked him the question, “If you could have dinner with any famous person, who would it be?”

“Do they have to be alive?” he asked.

I replied that they did not.

“Wernher Von Braun,” he said. “He was helped by the aliens to further rocket technology. We wouldn’t have people going to the moon if it wasn’t for alien technology. The calculus used to figure out how to get to the moon was incredible.” On second thought, he added Nikola Tesla to the list. “He’s the true inventor of electricity, Thomas Edison took the credit for it. He has a really interesting story.”

When Mr. Snoozy isn’t doing calculus, he likes to hunt, fish, or hike. He prefers fishing at Sheridan Lake, and he typically gets a deer tag annually. While he hunts, he dreams of finding a sasquatch. “I’m fascinated by sasquatches,” he said. “I’ve always believed in them since I was young.” His favorite food is chicken enchiladas. “I enjoy cooking, I like my own homemade chicken enchiladas. If I’m going out to eat, I prefer Fuji Steakhouse.” He listens to a lot of old rock and roll and country music. Mr. Snoozy informed me that he recently crossed one of the things off his bucket list. “I finally got to see Bob Seger last year in concert,” he exclaims. “I thought he quit last year, but we were lucky he came to Rapid City. Also, I really, really, want to go to Kathmandu (the capital city of Nepal). It’s the name of a song, one of Bob Seger’s most popular. It’s very ironic. The guy is incredible.” Finally, one of his biggest accomplishments is being married and having three sons. They are ages 21,29, and 31.

His vision in the next 5 or 10 years is to wrap up his teaching career. “I wouldn’t mind teaching in Europe or another country for a year or two after I retire,” he said. “I see myself staying in Rapid City. I’m just going to keep busy.” Until then, we can all find him in room D210 teaching some good math.