Mark Tenhundfeld ’15 ~ Courtroom to the Classroom
After sending his younger son off to college to pursue a degree in music production, Mark Tenhundfeld decided that it was time for a career change of his own. After practicing as an attorney for 26 years, Tenhundfeld applied to graduate school in the division of teacher education at Spring Hill College.
“I was attracted to SHC for two main reasons,” says Tenhundfeld. “First, Spring Hill has a schedule of courses that makes it possible to earn a master’s degree while working full-time. Second, I have the utmost respect for the Jesuit tradition of academic rigor.”
Tenhundfeld, a Mobile, Ala. native, received his undergraduate degree from Yale University in political science, and went on to pursue his law degree from Vanderbilt. He was in private practice in Mobile before moving to Washington, D.C., where he worked for almost 20 years on financial sector issues as a lawyer at the Federal Reserve Board, Treasury Department, and the American Bankers Association. Despite his vast experience, Tenhundfeld shares that learning to be an effective teacher was an eye-opening and humbling experience.
“I’ve learned that there is a whole lot more to teaching than just standing in front of a class and bombarding the students with information,” says Tenhundfeld. “My whole concept of teaching has changed dramatically as a result of the classes I’ve taken at Spring Hill. In particular, I am grateful to my professors, who’ve offered wonderful advice on teaching high school students.
Dr. Lori Aultman, chair of the SHC division of teacher education, has found Tenhundfeld a joy to have in class and a pleasure to observe during field experiences.
“Mark is a student professors love to have,” says Dr. Aultman. “He's highly intelligent and has a solid background in social sciences and law. Along with a passion for teaching, the MAT program has given Mark the pedagogical knowledge to enable him to become a vibrant secondary educator.”
While taking classes toward his master’s degree, Tenhundfeld has worked full-time at McGill-Toolen Catholic High School in Mobile. Tenhundfeld teaches AP U.S. Government and Politics, Honors American Government, and Honors Economics. In addition to his duties as an instructor, Tenhundfeld co-moderates the Student Government Association, the McGill Ambassador Club, and will advise the to-be-formed debate club at McGill-Toolen this fall.
“I love the idea of helping students develop their minds and start to think about things from a different perspective. I have one rule—be thoughtful. I don’t care what the students think, I only care that they think,” says Tenhundfeld. “It’s one reason that I love teaching American government. It’s crucial that citizens in a democracy understand how the government works and their responsibilities in it.”
Dr. Tom Hoffman, associate professor of political science and law at Spring Hill College, taught Tenhundfeld’s constitutional law class, and found him to be conscientious, detail-oriented, and enthusiastic.
“Mark was a fantastic student,” says Dr. Hoffman. “As part of his graduate credit, I asked him to guest lecture to a class of undergraduates. I knew he'd do a great job, but his performance exceeded even my high expectations. He was wonderfully engaging and prepared. I could see that everyone in the room got a lot out of it.”
Tenhundfeld, who will graduate in the spring of 2015, has enjoyed his time at Spring Hill College, and in particular, the relationships he’s developed with fellow students and his professors.
“I’ve always thought of Spring Hill College as a wonderful collection of very bright, motivated people,” says Tenhundfeld. “The fact that the school draws students from so many different parts of the country almost inevitably expands the perspectives and horizons of everyone on campus.”
Tenhundfeld has two family connection to Spring Hill College—his brother, Al, who graduated in 1969, and his niece, Jennifer Seward, who received her degree in 2006.
In his spare time, Tenhundfeld enjoys spending time with his wife, as well as painting, reading about history and government, playing golf, bicycling, kayaking, and avoiding yard work.