Robert Yanko: A history teacher with true passion


photo by Becca Kubick

Anyone who has ever had Robert Yanko—who’s even just seen him in his classroom—knows he has a passion for history. It’s this very passion that motivates students to push themselves toward success while also engaging them in a relaxed environment. A Hoban alum himself, he returns every year, now for his 49th time, ready to share his love of history with all his students. 

Yanko graduated from Hoban in 1966. After college (and for the majority of his career), he taught at Hudson High School. Unknown to many, Yanko retired and came to Hoban part-time. After only one year, though, he felt inspired to make teaching at Hoban his full-time occupation.

“I was only planning on staying a few years,” Yanko said. “That was 14 years ago.”

Although he’s the undisputed history genius students now know and love, this subject was not always Yanko’s passion. In high school, he was never inspired by history classes. 

This inspiration did not come until college, where “history became more like stories” (stories that he now shares five times a day with his AP United States and European History classes). 

“Mr. Yanko is one of the best teachers I’ve had at Hoban,” junior Thomas Crowe said. “He really engages students and makes class a lot of fun.” 

“He ensures that each student succeeds,” sophomore Olivia Scott added. 

Yanko’s unique teaching style, one he describes as “improvisational theatre,” is based off the students and their responses to questions. He creates a fun atmosphere while also teaching all the material. Each class creates a “wave of excitement and adrenaline” for both Yanko and his students, and brings passion and dedication into the classroom. 

“Mr. Yanko embodies Hoban,” junior Luke Monteleone said. “I have never left class without a smile on my face. Mr. Yanko always makes learning fun. He is everything Hoban has to offer.”

Yanko’s teaching style most directly reflects his experience at Hoban with the Holy Cross brothers. 

Every day, he “tries to follow in the footsteps of the brothers and incorporate their caring personalities and their commitment to education.” 

And he has done so well. Students leave each year with a special connection to Yanko and newfound love for history. 

“Building relationships with my fellow teachers and students will always be the most meaningful part of teaching,” Yanko said. 

The concept of family carried from his time at Hoban has followed Yanko throughout his life. Each day, he embraces and shares it with his students. His kindhearted personality creates special bonds that last a lifetime. 

Yanko is a living example of the good that comes from Hoban High School. His classes teach lessons about history and life alike.

“I try to inspire students to keep trying because I know someday they will all be great,” Yanko said.