Get to Know Your Teacher: Dr. Ruehlen

Get to Know Your Teacher: Dr. Ruehlen

We recently sat down and interviewed Hammond’s beloved condiment hater, squishy toilet giver, and American History teacher, Dr. Ruehlen. Read on to discover more about Abraham Lincoln’s number one fan.

What’s your full name?

Christopher Ronald Ruehlen

Where did you go to College?

I went to the University of North Carolina-Charlotte for undergrad and got my PhD from the University of Florida.

What is your favorite part about what you teach?

I love teaching history because I’ve always been passionate about it. I love teaching Civil War history, but I enjoy just being around the people more because every day is different, and students do strange things. Even with a set routine each day is different.

Why did you decide to become a teacher?

Originally, I didn’t really want to be a teacher. I actually told my parents that I’ll never do that. I originally went to grad school to get a PhD in History because I wanted to be a college professor- one who mostly did research and wrote books/journal articles. Part of my scholarship at the University of Florida was that I had to teach to help pay for my tuition, so I got to TA for a couple of years and was given my own classes. That’s where I really feel in love with it. They forced me to do it, but I just realized my happiness days were in the classroom.

What originally got you into history as a career?

I don’t ever remember not being interested in history. It was always a passion and I loved to read as a kid, so that drew me to history. I also had some really good history teachers in high school such as my AP US History teacher who literally brought me a DBQ on a snowmobile one day during a snow day. She was a great teacher, and I had a couple of professors in grad school who were so great and seemed so passionate about their job. Seeing them made me think, “Man I want to do that.” I wanted to be able to go to work and not be miserable.

After growing up in North Carolina and going to college in North Carolina and Florida, what made you think of South Carolina and Hammond specifically?

Nothing really. Growing up in North Carolina I couldn’t imagine living in South Carolina since they are such different places. Once I decided I didn’t want to teach at the college level I used a search firm that accepts you as a client for free and you tell them what you’re looking for in terms of jobs and they match you up with certain openings. I had never heard of Hammond and I knew very little about independent schools, but they sent my profile over to Hammond and matched us up. They called me for an interview and the rest is history

If you could go back in time what advice would you give your younger self?

I think in high school I would definitely go back and say don’t worry about things all that much. Especially what people think of you because you are never going to talk to most of these people ever again. Also, just to realize that high school is kind of the beginning of everything, and actually some of the best years of your life. You don’t have a whole lot of responsibilities and don’t have to pay for things. Maybe just enjoy it a little bit more and slow down/live in the moment.

What was it like growing up in North Carolina with parents who owned their own company?

I grew up in North Carolina as a middle child, older brother, younger sister, all two years apart. The whole Ruehlen Supply thing didn’t happen until I was in college. He owned stock in it, but he did not work at that company until I went off to college. When I was younger, he worked in banking in in downtown Charlotte, he wrote software for big banks and ended up changing careers in his 50s. Now that I’m in my 30s I’m grateful that I had a childhood with a stay-at-home mom who was there for me every day. We weren’t the wealthiest family, but we were pretty well off compared to most people at my school, so I think I had a pretty relatively normal childhood.

Looking back over your life would you change anything?

I don’t think I would. There would maybe be little things here and there, but I feel all the mistakes that I’ve made were pretty necessary. I’m a big believer that failure is your greatest teacher. I think any kind of misstep I’ve had, it was for the right reason, and almost everything that I’ve thought was really bad that has happened to me has, in in a weird way, opened another door for me. Maybe I’d make the 7th grade basketball team or something, that would’ve been cool. But even then, I learned a lot about rejection. First of many lessons.

Which teacher would you trade places with and why for a day?

I would switch with Mr. Manke for a day. He is a cool individual to be around and I wish that he was in the upper school more. I always feel better about the world and human beings when I’m around him for some reason. This is because he is a guy who doesn’t use his cell phone, is older yet much fitter than me and is overall an inspirational figure.

What extracurricular activities did you do in high school?

I played baseball, soccer, and was on the golf team. For clubs, I did National Honor Society. In terms of clubs that’s about it because my high school wasn’t worried about clubs as much as people getting stabbed. It was pretty different there.

Least Favorite Sports Team?

Florida State Seminoles. Pure evil. Print that.

Favorite Color?


Favorite Food to Get at Cafeteria?

We haven’t had it as much this year, but I like the Sailsbury Steak. Also, biscuits… RIP.

If you could have a Superpower what would it be?


Dream Vacation?

I’ve been there before, but I love Hawaii. I like the big island of Hawaii, and Maui is nice too. I love the big island because of the volcanoes, the wildlife there, it’s not as touristy, and you can actually see lava. It’s just a really cool place.

Your favorite fast-food restaurant?

Bojangles, for sure. Bojangles is the best. I went years without having Bojangles in Florida. I wasn’t kidding when I suggested having prom at Bojangles last year. I wish they had Bojangles food trucks. Some of my darkest days at grad school were when I looked up on what it would take to own a Bojangles, and it said you needed three things: positive attitude, to be highly motivated, and a net worth of one million dollars. I had 2/3 of those things so that didn’t cut it.

What would you name your boat if you had one?

My kid is going to be Lincoln so I can’t name it that. I think I would call my boat, “With Malice Towards None.” It’s one of Lincoln’s most famous quotes. I’m not a boat guy so that’s never going to happen, unless it’s a yacht.

If you were forced to change your name what would it be and why?

I really like my name, but if forced I would change it to Abraham. I’d keep my last name so Abraham Ruehlen.

What’s your favorite commercial?

I really like the original Jake from State Farm. The new ones I don’t like nearly as much. The old one is simple yet hilarious.

Favorite TV show of all time?

Seinfeld. It was comedy from the 90s. Nowadays people probably wouldn’t think it was funny because the context of the 90s is so important to it. There is one episode where they get lost in a parking garage and can’t find each other, but now you can just pick up a cell phone.

What song do you want to be played at your funeral?

John Cena’s theme song from WWE. When they carry the casket out, they will play John Cena’s theme song. I will want them to play at some point my favorite song of all time which is “Imagine” by John Lennon. That’s summarizes how I wish the world was.

Where would you go if you could time travel?

I want to see the dinosaurs and then I would go hang out with Lincoln in that order. I wouldn’t take Lincoln with me to go see the dinosaurs because I’m worried it would mess something up. Like he wouldn’t be there for the Civil War because he got eaten by a Pterodactyl and slavery survives.

Biggest pet peeves?

Probably people not being on time. It really bothers me. I find something rude about not being on time.

Most beautiful place you have ever been?

When I was a kid my parents took me to the Canadian Rockies in Alberta, Canada. Specifically, Banff National Forest because there was the clearest water I’ve ever seen. Hawaii is a close second. I went scuba-diving down 100 feet in the middle of the ocean and you can see for miles and miles everywhere. There were fish everywhere including sharks which aren’t that scary.

What is your favorite animal?

I like dogs. I don’t like cats, but I love dogs. I don’t have a dog now, but I’m thinking of getting one this summer. I’m not sure what type, but I’ve always wanted a beagle because they aren’t very hairy and don’t shed as much. My older brother has a greyhound and they’re pretty low maintenance, but they are pretty big dogs. Maybe one of those. However, I don’t like little dogs. My grandmother had one and he was really mean and bit me all the time.

Did you have any pets growing up?

Yes, we had a dog named Lucky which was a tragic story. She was a black lab that we had for about a year until she developed this mean streak and started biting us and stuff. One day I came home from school and Lucky was gone. My mom told me that they sent Lucky to a “big farm”. A couple years later we got a Brittany Spaniel named Bandit who lived for 16 years. She was the best dog that ever lived. She was wild and crazy, but she was a great dog. We also had an iguana for about a year, but we weren’t good at taking care of it. This is because we were so scared to feed it because it would whip its tail at us and try to bite us, so we sold it to somebody. His name was Iggy.

What is a good book you have read recently?

Last book I’ve read is called The Last Town on Earth. It’s a fictional account of this town in Washington State during the Spanish Flu of 1918/19. This sounds familiar because the town decides to quarantine itself so no one can get sick. They literally post guards and don’t let anyone in or out. The book is about how the community deals with the pandemic and World War I while they are quarantined and cut off. They had debates about wearing masks all the time like now. This book was written back in 2006 so you can imagine why I was drawn to the story. I almost want to teach it this year in Honors and Standard, if I have the time.

What is one food that you refuse to eat?

I refuse to eat condiments, I don’t know if that counts as a food. I will never ever touch those things. But for more of a food, I despise brussels sprouts. They smell like feet. I don’t understand brussels sprouts.

 Why are you scared of condiments?

I really have no idea. Phobias are irrational by definition, so I honestly don’t know. Something weird happened when I was a kid, but that’s all I can suspect. My sister is also afraid of them too, so maybe it is a family thing.

What terrible movie do you love?

Snakes on a Plane

 What are your top three favorite movies?

  1. Shawshank Redemption
  2. Good Will Hunting
  3. Dead Poets’ Society

If you could live in a different state what would you pick?

I’d pick North Carolina because that’s where most of my family is.

Do you like pineapples on pizza?

No. Who does that? Is that a thing? Ugh!

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

It would depend on who is available. Either Brad Pitt or Matt Damon. Kiefer Sutherland if they aren’t available.

If you could shop for free at any store what store would you choose?

Best Buy so I could buy all the TV’s and computers. I love just walking around Best Buy. And I love TVs.

Biggest celebrity crush?

There is a woman who used to work for ESPN and she now works for FOX Sports. She is a sideline reporter, and her name is Erin Andrews. I think she is the most beautiful woman in the world, and she went to the University of Florida. But she’s married unfortunately. I also think Biden’s new press secretary is kind of cute. Also, Abigail Adams for sure, and Martha Washington.