OAK PARK, Ill. — A suburban high school teacher is engaging his students with history and connections to the present-day in turbulent times, supporting students in learning about history both in America and across the world.

Fenwick High School social studies teacher Arthur Wieckiewicz is February’s Teacher of the Month.

History was not always a favorite growing up for Wieckiewicz, who had his interest ignited thanks to a few high school history teachers.

Today, he goes to work alongside some of the same teachers who taught him.

Wieckiewicz said his classroom approach is based on two things: treating students with respect and helping them connect the past and the present.

Fenwick sophomore Isabella Del Russo nominated Wieckiewicz for Teacher of the Month. Wieckiewicz also coaches the school’s Esports and Debate teams.

“He’s a very chill teacher. He checks in on us and makes sure we’re OK and when we go into his classroom it’s a very safe environment,” Del Russo said.

Del Russo said Wieckiewicz is especially diligent during discussions on difficult subjects, allowing everyone’s opinion to be heard without being judged.

“This is something that I didn’t expect but to get it feels amazing. It feels really validating,” Wieckiewicz said.

He said he wants his students to leave with much more than memorized facts.

“At the end of the year, I don’t expect them to know all of the presidents I expect them to know the skills that I taught them, how to write a paper, how to do research, how to be a good person, how to be a good citizen, that’s what I want these kids to take away when they graduate,” Wieckiewicz said.

Wieckiewicz has been on the job for five years and said the hardest part of his job is planning and preparation during after school hours.

As for his biggest reward, it’s the impact he’s seen his teaching have on students over the course of the past five years.

“That really makes me feel like I’m doing a good job. Like I’m doing good work. Doing something fulfilling,” Wieckiewicz said.