Why We Do This: Our Mission and Our Goal

“Why do we study history?”
“How can all of this stuff that happened in the past really be important today?”
“When are we ever going to use this knowledge?”

Certainly, every social studies teacher encounters these questions from students at some point in his or her career! We live, after all, in a very pragmatic, utilitarian society in which the value of knowledge is often measured in terms of the immediate or obvious financial benefit that it brings. A teenager who already knows how to write computer source code, for example, may see little point in learning about personalities and events that seem to have little bearing upon his ability to become the next great computer tycoon!

Unfortunately, teachers in the various social studies disciplines on both a high school and university level have found it increasingly difficult in this environment to justify the subjects that they teach, and this only makes it more difficult for students to see the value of what they learn. Some high school teachers and college professors turn their classes into vehicles for political advocacy, a platform from which they can “change the world." Others try to “jazz up” their classes with every technological gizmo possible, drawing the short-term interest of the students without really conveying to them the deeper meaning of what they are learning.

The crucial fact, though, is that the various social studies subjects are not only absolutely essential to the formation of any mature human being, but may possibly be the most important academic disciplines for a student to explore. While this may sound like a bit of a pompous exaggeration, we must recognize the critical roles that a well-rounded social studies education plays in the development of any person.

Knowledge of any kind can be used in a beneficial or harmful way. Any serious study of history will reveal plenty of examples of well-educated people who used their talents to inflict misery, sometimes on a horrific scale. While Jesuit high schools and universities have been known over the centuries as institutions of high intellectual repute, what has distinguished them has been their stress not only on acquiring knowledge, but also on using it properly. The various disciplines within the larger field of social studies provide students not only with essential knowledge, but also with an opportunity to examine – through a plethora of real-world examples from throughout the ages – how knowledge can be used to uplift humanity and how it has instead, at times, been used as a destructive tool.
 
This, ultimately, is the overarching duty and mission of the Brophy College Preparatory Department of Social Studies. We must invest our time, our attention – indeed, our very selves – to produce young men who not only can compete and interact with society’s sharpest minds, but who will know how to use their knowledge in a practical setting for the greater glory of God.

List of 2 items.

  • The critical roles that a well-rounded social studies education plays in the development of any person...

    Social studies courses are essential to a student’s social growth.
    As human beings, we must physically sustain ourselves and our families and try to achieve our hopes and aspirations in the context of a human society. To function effectively in a complex society such as ours is no simple task in itself, but to prosper within it requires a relatively deep understanding of the dynamics by which society operates.

    Social studies courses are a laboratory for studying human nature. 
    Perhaps nothing else has proven to be such a conundrum for humanity’s greatest thinkers as human nature itself! How human beings produce and cope with ideas and emotions, how they produce great works of art alongside horrific acts of irrationality, and how they navigate through a world in which the grace of God and the forces of evil tug simultaneously every person are questions that can only be answered by examining what human beings have done in various time periods and circumstances. A student who comes to understand and reflect upon human nature through a study of history, political science, and economics will likely grow up to be more emotionally mature and better prepared to be an effective spouse, parent, or leader within society.

    Social studies courses are critical to developing an effective apostolate.
    Good intentions alone seldom produce effective, lasting works that truly benefit society. In order to wage an effective Christian apostolate in this complex world, any student must have at least some understanding of how its power structures work, how its economic systems function, and how the lives of ordinary people on a day-to-day basis come to be shaped and changed. St. Ignatius of Loyola himself insisted that the members of his order become especially well-educated in the academic disciplines of his time. Only a person educated in the ways of the world could penetrate its various structures and institutions and effectively bring souls to God, remedying the world's physical and spiritual injustices in the process.

    Social studies courses teach vital communication skills.
    Since most of the vital written and verbal communication in which students will engage as adults will occur in a broad, social setting – whether in the workplace, in politics, in journalism, or in countless other areas – it is essential for students to know how to communicate effectively in those various social contexts. The writing that students learn how to do in their social studies courses will make them more effective communicators by teaching them how to phrase and defend arguments accurately and persuasively, to avoid making vague or hasty generalizations, and to use with precision the terminology they will need to master for the future.

    Social studies courses unite all other fields of study.
    Nothing brings together into a practical context all of the various fields of study with the same clarity and effectiveness as do the various social studies fields. The study of history, for example, brings together the great artistic and literary achievements of humanity, the often-liberating yet sometimes-tragic effects of its scientific discoveries, the importance of mathematical precision, the beauty of human emotions, and the practical implications of philosophy and theology. Students who are accustomed to “compartmentalized” learning, in which subjects are learned in very specialized settings, may fail to see the real-world connections among the subjects that they learn if they do not get an effective social-studies education.
  • Forming students who will make effective citizens, leaders, learners, and apostles...

    Effective Citizens
    A complete education must not only provide students with the intellectual base necessary to be an effective citizen, but also must prepare students to act on that knowledge in whatever walk of life they choose. Our department seeks, therefore, to produce students who are able to...
     
    • Analyze on a deep level the base assumptions of the culture in which they live, comparing and contrasting these assumptions with those of other cultures
    • Grasp the complexity and practical ramifications of such common social “buzzwords” as democracy, liberty, equality, and freedom
    • Discern where their own talents can best be used in the real world
    • Understand the mechanics of our own society well enough to provide solid teaching and training to any children whom they may have someday
    • Appreciate the value of patriotism while still being able to critique – honestly and openly – the society and system within which they live

    Effective Leaders
    So many of the worthy achievements of humanity over its history were made possible only because of the initiative, vision, and capability of individual leaders. What incoming students often fail to see, though, is that leadership is not something that must always take place in an organized political or corporate setting; rather, leadership can be exercised in virtually any walk of life, with the prime tools of leadership being our words and our example. We thus aim to produce students who...
     
    • Understand the importance of personal example as a form of leadership
    • Grasp the challenges and responsibilities that characterize any social or political leadership role
    • Appreciate just how essential leadership – in all forms – is to any effort to remedy social injustice or to achieve any form of social advancement
    • Understand how the structures of power operate in various types of societies and systems, along with the opportunities for positive action that each presents
    • Have the courage, acumen, and diplomatic skill to challenge prevailing notions and injustices and to propose constructive solutions to social dilemmas
    Effective Learners
    The Ignatian approach to education has long called for students to be formed into lifelong learners, for we cannot fulfill our potential as human beings or bring about the greater glory of God here on Earth if we abandon the “learning mentality” upon graduation. With an eye to preparing students for college in the short-term, and for the role of a lifelong learner over the longer term, the Department of Social Studies seeks to produce students who are able to...
     
    • Communicate effectively through the written and spoken word, using a well- developed vocabulary and adhering to the rules of the English language
    • Synthesize information from different contexts and draw logical conclusions from it
    • Critically evaluate real-world situations and hypothetical scenarios where the dynamics of human nature are involved
    • Read, interpret, and evaluate both primary and secondary sources accurately
    • Perform effectively within a variety of classroom and pedagogical formats
    • Carry out research with thoroughness, accuracy, and scholarly integrity
    • Grasp the nature of the common cause-and-effect relationships that are the basis of so many of the social studies fields

    Effective Apostles
    St. Ignatius of Loyola, of course, saw quite clearly that educated apostles would make effective apostles, for many areas of human life and society can only be sanctified by people who have the intellectual background and real-world savvy to penetrate them. The Second Vatican Council would essentially expand upon his thinking four centuries later. Contrary to the countless misinterpretations and distortions of the Council’s words and intentions, the heart of its message was the idea that the time has come for the laity to assume a much greater role in sanctifying the world through the numerous forms of lay apostolates. The Department of Social Studies, therefore, aims to produce students who...
     
    • Understand the potential of any honest occupation or vocation as a means of apostolate
    • Perceive the nature of the struggle within the human soul as it shows itself in the events and actors in both history and current events
    • Understand and be able to apply in their studies the authentic social teachings of the Catholic Church
    • Grasp, through the examples of people whom they study, the need for personal virtue and holiness as a foundation for any apostolate
    • Know the basic doctrines and historical dynamics of a variety of religious traditions, along with the apostolic opportunities and challenges that religious pluralism entails

Matt Hooten, Department Chair

Theodicy and the Holocaust, Economics
Mr. Hooten earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from Claremont McKenna College in 2004 and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from ASU in 2006. Before coming to Brophy in 2007, Mr. Hooten taught sixth grade at Littleton Elementary School in Avondale as a member of Teach For America, a non-profit organization. He is currently the head coach of the varsity basketball team.

Classroom: Brophy 104  ||  Tel: (602) 264-5291, ext. 6284  ||  mhooten@brophyprep.org

Frank Antonioli

U.S. History
Mr. Antonioli earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from California Polytechnic State University and a Master of Arts in Educational Counseling from the University of Phoenix. Prior to coming to Brophy in 1999, he taught and served as a counselor at St. Theresa's Catholic School in Phoenix. In addition to being a member of the Social Studies Department, he is the football equipment manager and assistant freshman baseball coach.

Classroom: Keating 10  ||  Tel: (602) 264-5291, ext. 6284  ||  fantonioli@brophyprep.org

John Burns

U.S. Government, Economics
Mr. Burns joined the Brophy staff in 2008 as a member of the Social Studies Department. John taught and coached at Joliet Catholic High School in Joliet, Ill. (his alma mater) for six years and at Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha, Wis. for 11 years before joining the Brophy community. John earned a Bachelor of Arts in History with a minor in Political Science from Northern Illinois University, a Master in Arts in Political Studies from Governors State University, and a Master in Arts in Sport Management from the United States Sports Academy in Daphne, Ala. John is also a basketball and volleyball coach.

Classroom: Brophy 112  ||  Tel: (602) 264-5291, ext. 6284  ||  jburns@brophyprep.org

Kelly Guffey

Advanced Placement Economics, Advanced Placement Government
Ms. Guffey attended ASU where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Communications. She also has a Post-Baccalaureate degree in Secondary Education from Rio Salado College and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from ASU. Ms. Guffey has been a member of the Social Studies Department faculty at Brophy since 2004. During her time at Brophy she has coached Speech and Debate, moderated several student clubs, and has enjoyed getting involved with activities in the Office of Faith and Justice.

Classroom: Brophy 103  ||  Tel: (602) 264-5291, ext. 6284  ||  kguffey@brophyprep.org

Ryan Hubbell

Advanced Placement World History, Sociology, Advanced Placement Psychology, Art and Media Studies
Mr. Hubbell graduated from ASU in 2006 with a degree in Women’s Studies. He then pursued graduate work at SUNY Stony Brook studying Sociology with a focus on gender and masculinity. At Brophy, he teaches in the Social Studies and Fine Arts departments, and co-directs the annual Summit on Human Dignity. He is an avid golfer, music lover, and Sun’s fan.

Office: Brophy 205  ||  Tel: (602) 264-5291, ext. 6284  ||  rhubbell@brophyprep.org

Joe Klein ’86

Yearbook Moderator, U.S. History, Advanced Placement U.S. History
Mr. Klein earned a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Arts in History from NAU. He has been a member of the Brophy faculty since 1993. He teaches in the Social Studies Department and moderates the Yearbook class. Mr. Klein is also involved with the football and track programs.

Classroom: Brophy 211  ||  Tel: (602) 264-5291, ext. 6284  ||  jklein@brophyprep.org

John Medici ’12

U.S. Government
Mr. Medici returns to Brophy as a member of the Alumni Service Corps. He joins the staff of the Office of Faith and Justice and will teach one section of Government. Mr. Medici studied Social Relations and Policy at Michigan State.

Tel: (602) 264-5291, ext. 6284  ||  jmedici@brophyprep.org

Andrew "Scooter" Molander

Physical Education, Health
Mr. Molander earned a degree in Social Sciences from Colorado State University. He teaches Health in the Physical Education Department and U.S. Government in the Social Studies Department. He has been a member of the faculty at Brophy since 2001 and the head football coach since 2005.

Office: Loyola 15  ||  Tel: (602) 264-5291, ext. 6280  ||  amolander@brophyprep.org

Tony Oldani, Director of Scheduling

Economics
Mr. Oldani earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Secondary Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master in Athletic Administration from Concordia University. He has been a member of the Brophy faculty since 1996 and has been with the Brophy volleyball program since 1994. In addition to serving as the Director of Scheduling and Student Activities, Mr. Oldani also has taught U.S. History, U.S. Government, and Economics.

Office: Romley Hall – 1st Floor  ||  Tel: (602) 264-5291, ext. 6338  ||  toldani@brophyprep.org

Will Rutt ’08

Advanced Placement Economics, Advanced Placement Government
After graduating from Brophy in 2008, Mr. Rutt matriculated to Creighton University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Economics. After graduation, he spent time studying Spanish and working with an NGO doing HIV/AIDS education in Bolivia. He returned to Phoenix and taught art at the Metropolitan Arts Institute before joining Brophy. Besides teaching in the Social Studies Department, Mr. Rutt is also on the staff of the Office of Faith and Justice.

Office: Office of Faith and Justice  ||  Tel: (602) 264-5291, ext. 6284  ||  wrutt@brophyprep.org

Kristin Venberg

Economics, Advanced Placement Comparative Government, Advanced Placement U.S. History
Mrs. Venberg earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from ASU with a minor in French. She also earned a Post-Baccalaureate degree in Secondary Education from ASU and a Master of Education in Educational Administration from Grand Canyon University. Previously, she taught Social Studies and English at Red Mountain High School in Mesa and at Madison Traditional Academy in Phoenix. Prior to coming to Brophy, Mrs. Venberg was the Assistant Principal at Madison Traditional Academy. She has lived overseas and enjoys traveling and spending time with her family and friends.

Classroom: Brophy 209  ||  Tel: (602) 264-5291, ext. 6284  ||  kvenberg@brophyprep.org

Mike Ward, Director of Admissions

Contemporary World Studies
Mr. Ward earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Santa Clara University and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction: Technology at Grand Canyon University. Previously, he taught social studies to junior high students at St. Martin’s School in Sunnyvale, Calif. and then relocated to Los Angeles, where he taught freshman World History and served as the Social Studies Department Chair at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Calif. Mr. Ward has been a member of the Brophy faculty since 1994, and the Director of Admissions since 1998. He has taught Geography/Western Civilization, Modern European History, and AP and Honors U.S. History.

Office: Eller Admissions Office  ||  Tel: (602) 264-5291, ext. 6357  ||  mward@brophyprep.org