“Crazy. Hair.” are the words that come to Robotics team member Nathan Hemmesch’s ‘22 mind when thinking of Mr. Michael Plucinski, Upper School Physics Teacher and Robotics Coach. Plucinski’s distinctive fluff is his trademark that helps the student body identify him from far down the hallway. But, Plucinski is more than a good head of hair: he is a man of many talents. While on the weekdays Plucinski dedicates his life to physics and his students, on the weekends, he gives his time to his family, emergency medical care, and music.
Plucinski, who is affectionately referred to as Mr. P by his students, is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) over the summer break and nearly every Friday night for the Ridgeview Ambulance in Waconia and the Mayo Clinic Ambulance in St. Cloud. The long drive there is worth the commute, as the shifts are twelve hours long, usually running from five PM to five AM. Although this seems like a tedious and energy-draining task, he comments, “It usually is a lot of waiting for a call and being prepared to spring into action.”
Once a call finally is made, Plucinski and his team arrive on the scene within fifteen minutes to help. He reflects, “Even though my energy over the shift ebbs and flows, I still get butterflies every time we receive a call.” Once the ambulance arrives, he and the team get to work to help the caller and, if needed, drive them to the hospital. Here, Plucinski’s physics knowledge comes in handy to help him as he drives, ensuring the smoothest ride possible for the staff and patient in the back.
Not only does his knowledge of physics apply to EMT work, but what he learns in the ambulance also applies to his life and students. The patience Plucinski has acquired after years of waiting during EMT shifts is exhibited in the classroom.
Advanced Physics student Mary Lee Rillens ‘22 remarks, “I ask a lot of questions and he always makes sure to answer without ever being demeaning. He takes the time to make sure I fully understand everything and doesn’t stop helping until he knows I don’t have any more confusion.”
Although his patience is the most prevalent trait his EMT background brings to the classroom, all Honors and Advanced Physics students know that he loves to pay homage to EMT work by using ambulances in word problems. “[Ambulances] are actually an amazing way to exhibit many concepts, such as the difference between distance and displacement,” Plucinski explains.
The brisk EMT life is only part of Plucinski’s weekends. The other half is dedicated to music, specifically to playing the piano. Musically inclined since childhood, Plucinski played the clarinet in high school and college orchestra. He has participated in a jazz-rock student band on the piano and even in a mini-teacher band with former Providence instructors Mr. Fischer and Mr. Smith. Plucinski is currently a piano sub for four separate parishes, which allows him to play regularly. He notes, “I always find myself drawn to playing music. It is such an amazing break that lets me exercise a different part of my brain.”
Plucinski’s crazy life and various talents outside of Providence may be unknown to many, but the traits he has picked up from them shine through in his teaching. What is known about him, is, in the words of Hemmesch, “Mr. P is a dedicated mentor through and through, whether it is in listening to your latest wacky robot design, pushing your fascinations in physics, or patiently waiting for the Robotics team to get through yet another rant.”