This article first appeared in the Nov/Dec 2013 issue of the Academy’s student-run newspaper, the Insider. To read more from the issue of the Insider, visit the Academy’s website.
By Jackie T. ’17
With many fascinating, new faculty this year, HA has much to look forward to in the coming years. I sat down with an already much-loved English teacher who has joined the Upper School this fall. I had a wonderful time finding out about Mr. Frengel, who is also the director for the Center of Literary Studies.
J: I’ve been told you’re quite interested in music as your hobby.
P.F.: Yes. I’ve been playing guitar since I was in 7th or 8th grade: acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and a little bass. I also play piano or keyboard, but that’s by ear. I can’t read music. I sometimes play with a guy who plays the drums and a bass player, but nothing too serious. We just have fun.
Wow! That’s definitely something many students and even faculty may not know about you! Clearly music is a big part of your life, so what led you to your becoming an English teacher? Have you always known this would be your profession, or did you think you would take on a different role as an adult?
Well, no, not exactly. I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was little. But when asked in college what I was going to do with my career, I did say I wanted to be a teacher. So I only realized what I wanted to do in college. For a while, I was a freelance writer and did that after graduate school. When I got married and decided to settle down, I went into the profession I always knew I would be in, which was a teacher. That was about 21 years ago.
Where did you work before the Academy?
I worked at Central Dauphin High School for five years and at Susquehanna Township for 15 years.
How has your transition to the Academy been going, and what do you think of the Academy so far in comparison to other places.
It’s been going great. I’ve been really busy because I’m teaching new material, material I’ve never taught before. But Harrisburg Academy is wonderful. People have all been supportive and friendly and the students are excellent. They work hard and are very smart! I’m impressed, and I really enjoy teaching here.
I’m very happy. Who are your favorite authors? What are some “must-reads” that you would recommend to students and faculty alike?
One of my favorite books is “Tales from Ovid” by Ted Hughes. I love “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by Ken Kesey.
What was your favorite class in high school?
I loved psychology at Susquehanna Township High School. I liked the teacher because he was very smart and gave a lot of insight.
That is so cool! Susquehanna Township… you lived around here then?
Yes, I grew up here!
I would have never known. Where do you go to relax? What do you do to relax?
I have a dock out by my house on the creek, Conodoguinet Creek. I read books and relax and play guitar there.
Well that sounds relaxing. What are your hobbies outside of school? Do you have any favorite musical artists? Favorite destinations to travel?
I have a black belt in Kung Fu, so I like to practice that. Music is my great love, really. I was into photography for a while; I usually take my camera along when I go hiking. For the music, I lover alternative indie rock bands like My Morning Jacket, Radiohead, and Wilco. I also like Grizzly Bear, The Black Keys, Dr. Dog, and Tame Impala. My Morning Jacket, that’s one of the best bands I’ve seen live in a long time. And I’ve been to Japan, China, Italy, Greece, England. I used to travel a lot.
Crazy! Any destinations you’d like to go to in the near (or sometime near!) future?
I’d love to go back to Japan someday. I’ve never been to Egypt, so I’d like to go there. And I’d like to go to Russia, but not in the winter [he chuckles]!
Winter is one of the best parts! Do you like cooking?
Oh yes. I love cooking, especially Italian food. And I make great breakfasts.
I’d like to go more into your love for music. Have you ever thought about pursuing that interest in a more professional way? Maybe? I mean, you write songs. You record!
Well, yes! Sure. I record on my Mac using Garageband, by myself. But I’ve never really thought about it that way.
You seen like an amazing person. What should students in your class be looking forward to this year? What are you looking forward to this year? If there was one thing you wanted your students to know about you, what would that be?
I’m planning on reading some great books in class and doing more projects, and I’m looking forward to teaching you guys “Hamlet.” I love teaching “Hamlet”: one of the best plays, EVA [he chuckles]! I would want my students to love to learn reading books as much as I do.