YHS Teachers for Dummies

The Mute is an annual edition of The Voice with satirical articles in honor of April Fools’ Day.

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From age 4 in preschool, all the way to high school, our teachers teach us how to count, write essays, make outlines, and much more. Oftentimes, in the process of learning all this, our teachers are our biggest role models, but do we really know them? We are all trained to ask our teachers, “How was your day?” or “How are you?” These are basic manners that we all, hopefully, adopted at a young age; however, these generic “hi-bye” conversations with our teachers will not help us in getting to know them. If you think about it, we don’t really know the people we spend 7 hours a day, 5 days a week with. They could be robots, CIA agents, or even mafia leaders for all we know. So let’s dig a little deeper! I asked five teachers three simple questions so we can get an inside scoop on their lives and the ones they led before they got here.

 

Question #1: What is one of your funniest teaching moments?

Question #2: What is one of the most outrageous things you have done in school?

Question #3: What is one random fun fact about you?

 

MR.MULLANEY:

What is one of your funniest teaching moments?

Kids laugh about this, but at the time it wasn’t funny. I was teaching at an all-boys prison. These are boys that were there for really serious crimes, like bad crimes. I was about thirty and the kids I was teaching were high-school age kids, but they were in prison. You know like gang kids you hear about in the news when a sixteen year old kid shoots somebody? It’s like juvie…So, I was teaching in a boys prison in NYS. You know how a kid next to you will ask a teacher a question and the teacher will lean over and the teacher’s butt is awkwardly close to you, but you kind of just turn away? Well, in the prison, a boy took his pencil and stabbed me in my butt cheek. That kid taught me a lesson: always be aware where your butt is when you’re leaning over to help a kid. 

 

What is one of the most outrageous things you have done in school?

I went to college in Missouri (of all places) in the 1970s, and there was a restaurant that was called “Torrey Pines Chicken.” It was a chicken restaurant and there was a giant chicken/rooster on a pedestal out in front of the restaurant and me and my fraternity brothers one night got in a pick-up truck, went to the chicken, and took it off the pedestal. It was like 20 feet tall. We unbolted it and put it in the truck, and then we put it on top of the main building of the college. The next morning, when everyone got up to go to classes, there was this giant chicken sitting at the top of the building. We kind of got in trouble, but we brought it back and we didn’t mess up the chicken. The owner kind of thought it was funny too.

 

What is one random fun fact about you?

I wouldn’t say I’m an awesome dancer, but I’m an awesomely funny dancer when I dance. I just go crazy when I dance. There used to be a thing called “Dancing With the Staff” and Mr. Bronzi, Mr. Cerrar, Mr. Lopez, Mr. Contreras, and I won the Dancing With the Staff. We played the Backstreet Boys. Not just that though. Whenever I go to weddings or parties, I’ll just go on the dance floor and dance like really crazy and people are usually shocked because they’re not used to seeing this old guy dancing. When I was your age [14], I would never dance in front of anybody ever because I’d be embarrassed  dancing. Then, I just said whatever. I think it was because I was dating a girl in college and she was a drama and a dance major. She told me nobody cares about how you dance, everybody cares about themselves…I wouldn’t say awesome, that sounds egotistical. I’m an awesomely kind of crazy dancer so usually people when they see me they’re either shocked or they’re laughing. 

 

 

MR.MORENA:

What is one of your funniest teaching moments?

You know how on test days, kids come up and they’ll try to get an answer out of you? If you become a teacher, you’ll see that happens all of the time. I don’t take it personally and it really doesn’t bother me, but I have a line that I say every time, and I’ve been saying it for years. I say, “If I give you the answer, you’ll lose respect for me and your respect for me is way more important than your grade. Don’t you agree?” And of course the kid doesn’t agree. They want the answer, but they laugh and it’s a way for me to tell them, “I’m not giving you the answer.” A couple of years ago, I’m driving down the highway, probably too fast, and a state policeman pulls me over and gets out of the car. Right away, I know, this guy is going to give me a ticket for speeding. So I decide to come up with something, I’m going to try to talk my way out of it. What do I have to lose? I’m thinking about the usual excuses:  I’m watching my neighbor’s dog and I have to go home to feed him, my house is on fire and I have to put it out, the government planted an explosive chip in my neck and I’m going to the CIA headquarters to get it removed because it’s about to go off. You know, the typical stuff? I’m all ready when the cop comes. I roll down my window. I say “I don’t get speeding tickets, give me a break.” He looked at me and he says, “If I didn’t give you a ticket you would lose respect for me and your respect for me is way more important than your bank account,” and he walked away back to the patrol car. He was a state policeman, and I’m sitting there saying man, that’s a very bizarre thing to say, I say something like that. He comes back to the car with the ticket in his hand, hands it to me, “Good to see you again Mr. Morena,” and then leaves.

 

What is one of the most outrageous things you have done in school?

Our senior prank took place in Connecticut at the Danbury Fair. It’s where the Danbury Mall is right now, and they have these huge statues. They were gigantic, 20-30ft high, and made out of clay. One was of Paul Bunyan, an American folklore figure. He was one of these figures at the Danbury Fairgrounds and the fairgrounds closed down to build this mall, but they still had these things all over the place. My friend’s father had a construction business with heavy equipment, so we took the heavy equipment, and we cut off Paul Bunyan’s head. It was gigantic, and the plan was to hoist it on the flagpole at the high school as a prank, so when you pulled up to the high school, you’d see Paul Bunyan’s head. Well we got it there, and as we were trying to hoist it up, the police came and thwarted our plan.

 

What is one random fun fact about you?

I’ve never ingested a Starbucks product. I haven’t had Starbucks from when they started and I just kept going. I said I’m never going to have a Starbucks product and I never did. Have I purchased something at Starbucks? Yeah, but it wasn’t for me. 

 

 

MADAME CONE:

What is one of your funniest teaching moments?

One of my funniest teaching moments was probably around ten years ago when I had a little classroom with a big wooden closet that I kept everything in. I don’t like to teach vocabulary just by giving them the French word and then the English translation. So that day, I was teaching the students the verb “to disappear” in French, and I thought, Hmmm…how will I disappear? So I opened the closet doors, I got into the closet, and when I closed it I realized that I was locked in and there was no way to get out. I didn’t know whether to give into my instant claustrophobia and scream and pound, or whether I should try to stay calm because I had a big class. It was really horrible. There was one girl in the class screaming, “Let her out, let her out,” and there was another boy who was like, “No, don’t let her out, keep her in!” He started standing against the door and I had been silent this whole time. I was freaking out. Finally, someone opened the door for me because they thought I was just kidding, but I was really locked in the closet, and it was a horrible, horrible feeling. They learned really well the verb, “to disappear” in French. 

 

What is one of the most outrageous things you have done in school?

When I was in school I was incredibly un-outrageous. The only interesting thing was when I was in first grade. I was so terrified of my teacher. Her name was Ms. Nixon and she was like eight feet tall. When my parents had a conference with her, I had not opened my mouth in the class, and she told my parents, “I think we should have Michelle tested because Michelle has learning disabilities.” My mother said, “No, she’s bilingual, she speaks French and English and even reads French and English.” I was so terrified of this teacher that one day my tooth fell out and I suddenly went into panic mode because I was so afraid to raise my hand because when little children used to have little accidents, she was really mean about it. I just kept quiet. I kept the bloody tooth in my mouth for like two hours until I went home because I was so afraid of her. 

 

Question #3: What is one random fun fact about you?

I discovered one day that I can gargle water and hum tunes. I used to do it all the time, but students are abstemious, so I’m afraid to freak them out or have them tell their parents, “My teacher’s crazy.” I can gargle any song, I can gargle a symphony, not for too long before I choke. It’s a good icebreaker.

 

 

MS. WILLIAMS:

What is one of your funniest teaching moments?

10 years ago, I was giving a test on “Death of a Salesman” and there was a kid in 11th grade, and I guess he didn’t know the answers to the questions. He didn’t do well on it so he said, “I bombed this test, I’m just going to eat it,” and he actually started eating the paper so I had to stop him from doing that. That was actually a very funny moment.

 

What is one of the most outrageous things you have done in school?

It is not so much something outrageous that I did, but something sort of “outrageous” that I experienced. When I was in 5th grade I was walking home from the bus stop with my neighbor. It was about a 1/2 mile walk. When we got about 1/4 of a mile from our houses, the street was suddenly covered with pennies–thousands and thousands (probably hundreds of thousands) of pennies. The entire road from one side to another was completely covered with pennies. We could see them shining in the distance and feel them crackling under our feet. We never found out where they came from and no one ever came back to collect them (they would have needed something like a plow). To this day. it remains one of the most outrageous memories of my school days.

 

What is one random fun fact about you?

When I was in graduate school I studied abroad in England to learn how to teach Shakespeare and I acted in a number of Shakespeare plays. I actually acted on stage.

 

 

MR.BRONZI:

What is one of your funniest teaching moments?

I’m pretty good with names. I get everyone’s name on the first day, but I had this student for two or three years and I always called him by his last name. So one day, he was out and I don’t do well with blank desks so I always ask my other students, “Who’s supposed to sit there?” because I know somebody’s absent, so the students in class say, ‘Eric’s out,’ and I have no idea who they’re talking about. I was starting to question myself…I don’t remember teaching an Eric. He’s back the next day and I’m like, “Oh, Hanlan.” I had totally forgotten his first name.

 

What is one of the most outrageous things you have done in school?

In high school we would do Senior Follies. I hosted that show and seniors can do skits, so I did an act in it too. It was also an election year, so I had a debate between me and the principal on who should be the next principal, but I wasn’t myself. I impersonated a sub. We debated each other, which was a lot of fun and kind of crazy, and in that same show I did an act about a crocodile hunter.

 

What is one random fun fact about you?

My wife came home this summer from the library and rented season one of Game of Thrones. We finished all eight seasons in a matter of four weeks, staying up until 2 am in the summer sometimes watching. Also, I used to train. I haven’t in a while, but I love jiu jitsu and I would love to train in jiu jitsu. If you could give me three hours a week to do whatever I want, I would love to train. I think that’s fantastic and I think it’s a life skill. Not just to defend yourself, but I just think the presence of mind and being able to manipulate your body is just great. I would love to train. When my kids are older, I could see myself getting back into that.