Mr. Prosser: From Coca-Cola to the classroom

Mr. Prosser is a legendary teacher at DePaul Prep. His wit, intelligence, and business experience have made him a phenomenal teacher – and those who have had him often agree. 

Prior to his teaching career, Mr. Prosser worked in the Finance and Operations Department at Coca Cola Bottling Company in Chicago, Illinois. He worked with the company’s budgeting, monetary policies, and day-to-day operations. After many years of working for Coca Cola, he came to realize that his work at the large franchise was simply, “making rich people richer,” and wasn’t as fulfilling as he’d like it to be. 

He felt drawn to teaching because of his own educational experience.  In middle school, he was “always getting in trouble.” In high school, he even had a counselor tell him that he shouldn’t try to get into college. This only motivated him to try harder at school.

Once in college, Prosser improved his grades, made the honor roll, and even advanced to high honor roll. He got a B.A from Northeastern Illinois University, an M.B.A. from Roosevelt University, and a B.A. from Eastern Illinois University. 

The obstacles that he faced during his high school education made Prosser “[want] to help people like [him],” who had been overlooked, but still had potential. 

In 2009, Gordon Technical High School was on the lookout for a new computer and business teacher. Prosser was interviewed, and the school turned out to be a great fit for him. Prosser’s real-world business experience proved to be extremely beneficial to his teaching career. 

During Prosser’s early years at what was then Gordon Technical High School, he taught a multitude of classes ranging from religion to remedial math. Prosser’s favorite class that he’s taught has been accounting, because students showed a higher level of interest than in other, more lecture-heavy classes. He tries to keep a 70:30 ratio of “actually doing things” to lecturing, which gives students a hands-on approach to learning accounting. Prosser believes that it is important to “lecture as little as possible, and let students learn by working.”

Throughout his time teaching at DePaul Prep, Prosser has come to “appreciate the average level of intelligence and the average behavior of students,” noting that the latter has improved since President Dempsey began leading the school. Every year, he said, students are more well-behaved, and their academic skills have improved. 

Mr. David Prosser, Prosser’s son and EDGE Lead Teacher of Instruction at DePaul Prep, described his father as “exceedingly authentic,” noting that, “[Prosser is] aggressively helpful and somehow able to hold students to a high standard without sacrificing an entertaining environment in his classroom.”

David Prosser “challenges those reading this to ask any student who has had him what their favorite Mr. Prosser story is. You won’t come back disappointed.” 

Tim O’Reilly, a fellow teacher and Social Studies Department Chair at DePaul Prep, described Mr. Prosser as someone with, “huge personality,” who is, “always there for his students all the time during class, going the extra mile.” O’Reilly also mentioned how Prosser “brings a unique perspective on teaching, given his experience, and brings a special energy to all of [the Social Studies Department’s] meetings.” 

Junior Josephine Favela agrees, saying that Mr. Prosser is, “really nice to everyone. He just jokes around.” 

Prosser explained that being a teacher felt like, “being a rockstar,” and at times, because you have a reputation, students respond positively to you. Teaching at DePaul Prep has made Prosser “feel special, like [he’s] made a positive difference.” 

Prosser has come to understand the depth of his work and impact on not only current DePaul Prep students but alumni too. He has had former students visit or reach out to him, saying that his classes prepared them well for college and made their post-secondary education easier. 

According to his son, Mr. Prosser’s “[decision] to switch careers to teaching was one of the best decisions [he] has ever made. He loves to teach, loves this school, and lives for this.”

Teaching has been a humbling experience for Prosser – he has learned so much about what’s in peoples’ brains, as he said. Prosser brought up how, “all of us start as a child, mature into an adult, and are always acquiring knowledge.” Prosser has been glad to be part of peoples’ educational journeys.