St. Joe’s Teacher of the Week: Mr. Michael Hrivnak


Bianca McCarty

Mr. Hrivnak instructing his 7th grade choir class. Hrivnak is being featured as teacher of the week for The Bear Facts.

Bianca McCarty, Co-editor

Every week The Bear Facts selects a St. Joe teacher to be featured. This week the staff selected Mr. Michael Hrivnak.

The Bear Facts: How old are you?

Mr. Michael Hrivnak: I am 49 years old.

The Bear Facts: What is your hometown?

Hrivnak: I was born in Abington, PA (a suburb of Philadelphia), but I consider Zelienople, PA (a suburb of Pittsburgh) to be my hometown. FYI, it’s pronounced zil-ya-NO-pull.

The Bear Facts: Are you married?

Hrivnak: I am! On May 27, 2020 Mrs. Hrivnak and I will celebrate our 25th Anniversary!

The Bear Facts: Do you have kids?

Hrivnak: Mrs. Hrivnak and I have two children: Maren (a sophomore at St. Olaf College in MN) and John, a St. Joe sophomore.

The Bear Facts: What’s your favorite food?

Hrivnak: One of my favorite foods is still roast chicken, though I have been eating less and less meat in favor of vegetables. I also have to say that I really love pies, especially fruit pies. Oh, man…

The Bear Facts: What are your hobbies?

Hrivnak: I’m a cyclist, which means I’m one of those people out there riding the roads in the funny outfits. I also really love snow skiing, but we haven’t been able to do that as much since we moved back to Mississippi. Of course, I love music, and I enjoy cooking when I have time to make something interesting.

The Bear Facts: Where did you attend college?

Hrivnak: Actually, I went to three colleges to get my undergraduate degree:
– Lehigh University, Indiana University of PA
– University of Cincinnati (where I met Mrs. Hrivnak)
Everything worked out in the end, but in retrospect, and specifically to my college experience, I’m sorry I didn’t stick things out at Lehigh.

The Bear Facts: What degree did you receive?

Hrivnak: I have a Bachelor of Music Education from The University of Cincinnati, and a Master of Music degree from California State, Los Angeles.

The Bear Facts: How long have you taught?

Hrivnak: This is only my 17th year of teaching. For a number of years, I worked full time as a church musician.

The Bear Facts: How long have you been at St. Joe?

Hrivnak: This is my third year at SJHS.

The Bear Facts: What subject do you teach?

Hrivnak: I teach Piano and Choir classes. I’d like to teach AP Music Theory some time—Poetry, too.

The Bear Facts: Why did you become a teacher?

Hrivnak: I l-o-v-e Music, I really appreciate learning, and I really, really enjoy young people. I feel as if I get to score a hat trick every day.

The Bear Facts:  How has teaching impacted your life?

Hrivnak: It’s kept me curious and inquisitive. It’s helped me develop lasting patience and compassion. It allows me to feel as if I have, however small, a direct impact on the future. It has fostered and fed my sense of humor. Along with the liturgical year, it has formed a seasonal framework and set of repeating patterns with which I observe and experience life. It has provided and rotated through my career an incredible collection of humans. In spite of question #1, teaching keeps me young at heart.

The Bear Facts: Who is your role model? Why?

Hrivnak: I’m going to go with Mr. Rodgers, here. Kindness, gentleness, compassion, an unwavering respect for the dignity of all persons, calm assurance, consistency, reliability, patience, creativity, humility, simplicity, openness, a love of learning and sharing what one has learned, truthfulness (even with difficult things), authenticity, and generosity of spirit.

The Bear Facts: Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?

Hrivnak: I would hope to be back in Greater Cincinnati area five years from now. Mrs. Hrivnak and I met there, both of our kids were born there, we still have great friends there, and we really love that corner of Ohio. Ten years from now? I can’t say for sure, but I’ve always wanted to live abroad for an extended period of time. I’d love to hunker down in Sweden for a while. The Czech Republic and Scotland round out the top of my list—the countries the people on my side of our family came from. I’d also love to experience the Netherlands for a while—a country where cycling infrastructure is overwhelmingly most important. Even if we can’t live in any of those places for a while, I really hope we can visit.

Mr. Michael Hrivnak is the middle and high school choir. Also, he teaches piano and helps the Bruin Varsity football team. 


Clay Blanchard
St. Joe’s choir director Mr. Michael Hrivnak during the annual Gifts of the Season.