New University High School teacher writes poetry, hosts podcast

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Franklin Oliver is certain his teaching philosophy meshes well with University High School.

“I’m convinced that relationships truly matter, and University shares that belief,” he said. “Being encouraged to know students as full people allows us all to tailor instruction to specific groups of students and pursue learning in lots of different directions, and having time every day to connect with students outside of class is a true gift.”

University High School teacher Franklin Oliver hosts “The WhoDeannyPod” podcast. (Submitted photo)

Oliver, who previously taught at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, is teaching world history and sociology in his first school year at UHS in Carmel.

Oliver first taught classes while in graduate school at Indiana University.

“Landing at Brebeuf in 2005 was a life-changing opportunity for me, and I’m excited to make another wonderful leap of faith by working at University,” he said.

The Indianapolis resident is a published author and has been hosting a podcast, “The WhoDeannyPod,” for nearly two years. The name comes from the fact Oliver’s middle name and his childhood nickname was Deanny. The other part comes from Oliver’s interest in the persona of Harry Houdini.

“Apparently, he was merely an above-average magician but willed himself into public consciousness. That’s an impressive feat,” Oliver said. “And, of course, I love wordplay, so WhoDeanny makes sense on multiple levels. I describe ‘The WhoDeannyPod’ as deliberately free flowing, intimate and DIY (do it yourself). I love having guests on the pod, especially students, because I learn so much in the process. It’s also wonderful to have a chance to dig into issues I really care about, whether it’s politics, culture or just an experience I want to consider more deeply.

“I loved my most recent pod, which was a combination of my reflections on Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison and sharing a couple of my original poems that reflect themes that were important to her.”

Poetry is another passion.

“I developed a real interest in writing poetry in high school once I realized that all the rules were only suggestions,” Oliver said. “Having the capacity to express myself in a wide variety of ways was extremely exciting and I fell in love with the form.”

Oliver said he wrote very little poetry for a decade while in college, graduate school and starting his career.

“Honestly, I spent so much time writing long-form academic pieces that poetry seemed insignificant in comparison,” he said. “It took me too long to recognize the validity of my own work. Now that I’ve recognized that my poetry is good and can help move people, I want to call the shots for myself. That’s why I’ve eschewed the traditional routes with both writing and podcasting. I’m my own boss in both.”

His first two books, “MOSAIC” and “Myths,” are available through his website, whodeannypod.org, while his 2019 book, “Dreams and Premonitions,” is electronic-only and available via Amazon Kindle at tinyurl.com/y38oymvo.  Oliver also was once a Jeopardy contestant with his episode airing in May 2000.

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