Mr. Schmude: 32 Years At FDR!


Li Na Jiang, Contributor

AP Government and Politics is usually a remarkable class for upperclassmen, especially those passionate about debate and modern politics. Yet, it stands out for another reason—Social Studies teacher Richard Schmude, who retells his life anecdotes that are guaranteed to leave you with a good laugh.

Mr. Schmude, or Mr. Schmudge, along with his plethora of misspelled last names, is an AP Government and Politics Teacher at FDR. He’s also a marathon runner, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup connoisseur, and storyteller. After confessing that he’s a proud member of the AARP (or American Association For Retired Persons), his students occasionally refer to him as a boomer. He started working at FDR when he was just 18.

Mr. Schmude didn’t actually start off in FDR as a History teacherhe was actually a custodian. When revealing this fact to his students, it often leaves them in awe. After graduating from Abraham Lincoln High School, Mr. Schmude started college at Brooklyn College to study business administration. At the same time, he started working at FDR. Thanks to his bubbly personality, he was eventually hired by former Principal Adele Vocel to teach once he graduated. It’s obvious that he didn’t end up pursuing business administrationnow he’s been teaching for more than 25 years. He somehow creatively intertwines his personal anecdotes with his lessons. And trust me, he has a bunch.

Though he currently lives in New Jersey, there is no doubt Mr. Schmude is a lifelong Brooklynite. In fact, many of his personal stories take place in Brooklyn. When teaching about political gaffes, Mr. Schmude recalls the time when he stole $10 dollars from his father just to play Donkey Kong at the arcade. Things were going merrily—until he was confronted by his father with a tap on his shoulder. Mr. Schmude vividly recalled the guilt he felt on that day. In another scenario, when he was a teenager, he and his friend decided to practice their BMX bikes in an empty neighborhood parking lot. It was under construction, and the ramps provided the perfect opportunity to practice, though it clearly printed “no trespassing.” He was later detained by the police. His mother had to eventually pick him up from the police station.

While covering the Bill of Rights, Schmude recalls another anecdote tied to his lesson plan. One day, on his commute to class, when he had just started teaching at FDR, he was approached by a veteran teacher who asked him to sign a petition. Because Schmude was in a rush and the petition had come from a highly respected faculty member, he impulsively signed the petition and hurried off to class. During the 8th period, he was called down to the principal’s office. He was once again confronted with the same petition in front of him, but this time, he read it precisely. It had stated, “We wish to have principal Adele Vocel removed.” Mr. Schmude had betrayed the same principal who hand-picked and provided him with a job!

Though many of Mr. Schmude’s stories seem absolutely preposterous, they surely do provide a source of entertainment for his students. It also amplifies Mr. Schmude’s authentic nature and well-liked persona.

Mr. Schmude’s class redefines what it means to take AP Government at FDR. It’s more than heated debates (which still does often occur), but also a retelling of amusing stories. It’s truly a class worth taking. And do not fretif you somehow miraculously end up failing his class, his catchphrase will be there to reassure you, “there’s always summer school.”