What If…?

by Taylor Waresh

Have you ever wondered about the personal lives of your teachers? Had questions about their childhoods, or what they would do in any given situation?  Perhaps what they would do if they weren’t teachers at all?

I know it’s hard to stray from the fixed, childish image we have of teachers being grumpy old trolls who live in RFH’s basement or boiler room–a belief instilled in us way back in the days of elementary school. Trust me, I’m all too familiar with the sudden shock that comes from seeing teachers stroll down the stocked aisles of the Acme, or casually walk their dogs down the streets. Shouldn’t they be at the school, grading papers or devising tricky test questions to stump their students?

Well, not exactly. It’s enough to remind us that they are human, after all. So in order to set the record straight, this section of the Tower Review is here to enlighten you about the personal lives of some of our finest teachers here at RFH.


Mr. Shea (English and Social Studies Supervisor, English Teacher):

Q: Is there something you’ve always wanted to do growing up, but never got the chance?

A: I have not grown up yet, so I am still working on the list. Kayaking, Civil War re-enacting, and catching a Cubs’ home game  are three things that come to mind right away.

Q: If you could be anything else (besides your chosen profession), what would you be, and why?

A: Another good question. One of the best jobs that I ever had was working in a small bookstore. The clientele was fairly literate because of the “academic” location of the bookstore (adjacent to a university), so it was fun to kick back and talk to smart people about good books. Running a bookstore in a college town—preferably in New England. Very cool. Alas, I have no trust fund, so this must be a dream deferred.  Another great job was bartending in an Irish pub. Again, it was a fairly literate place—almost everyone that worked there was an avid reader or writer and the place hosted poetry readings and cultural events. I could see myself doing that again. Sláinte mhath! Once again, the darn trust fund issue…. Why do all of the cool jobs require fall-back funds?

Q: If you could ask anybody (dead or alive) from history for advice, who would you ask, and what would you ask them?

A: Hmm….no clue. Seriously, this is a tough question. I guess I would default to someone like Socrates. How do you lead a good life? He asked this question over and over again, never getting a decent answer from anyone in Ancient Greece. Shocker. A simple question, but a tough one to answer. Look at the world around us. We need all of the advice we can get.


Ms. Lerner (English Teacher):

Q: If you could live anywhere in the world for the rest of your life, where would it be and why?

A: There are so many places in the world that I have yet to see, so pinpointing one place to live is hard. It would definitely be somewhere that is more concentrated on experiencing the outdoors than around here. I could see myself out in Northern California or Colorado, where hiking, camping, and skiing all are viable options at every turn. Then again, if I knew better Italian, I would love to live somewhere in the Cinque Terre, where I could hike between villages right by the water.

Q: If you won the lottery, what would you buy first?

A: Well, it depends how much money I won in this lottery that you speak of. If I hit the Powerball and never had financial considerations in the future, I would probably buy a house right off the bat. I would also consider giving some money to my family, especially my sister, so that she could stay at home with my niece. Then I would go on a whirlwind travel tour, visiting every country that I ever wanted to see. Once I had quenched my need for wanderlust and had secured a comprehensive investment portfolio, I would donate money to charities dear to my heart, like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Q: If you could do anything for a living other than what you do now, what would you do, and why?

A: This is a difficult one for me to answer because there used to be so many different directions that I saw my life going in before I decided to be a teacher. I suppose I can provide a cliché “English teacher” response and say that I would choose to write for a living. There has always been a deep longing inside of me to write something truly great– to leave something lasting behind me and to enrich other people’s lives as so many authors have done to mine. Besides writing a novel, I could see myself writing copy for advertising; I would love to create things that engage people and influence their behavior. And speaking of influencing behavior, I would also like to work in the field of psychology, either in research-oriented pursuits or as a clinician.


Ms. Okeson (Art Teacher):

Q: If you could be anything else in the world (besides your current profession), what would you be and why?

A: A seed collector. There’s a guy I know who is an authoritative botanist, and he employs a few people to travel the world and collect seeds, seed pods, tubers, etc from plants. After natural disasters, the seeds are sometimes redistributed to locations where a native plant has been threatened.  I like the idea of travel, of the solitary nature of the job. I like the idea of seeing how the environment dictates how a plant survives and evolves.

Q: If you could choose exactly what you were to eat and drink for your last meal, what would it be and why?

A: Something with a lot of dairy. Gnocchi with a cheese and cream sauce. I’m lactose intolerant so most creamy sauces make me feel terrible. I suppose knowing it was my last meal would give me permission to eat all that fun stuff without regret.

Q: If you could go back in time and change something you did, would you?  Why or why not?

A: There are few things I regret so much that I would entertain changing them if possible. At this point in my life, I have learned so much, am so aware of the growth that was the outcome of my mistakes that I’m not sure changing them is worth it. I have gotten to this place where i think that just because something felt terrible doesn’t mean it had no value or worth as an event. That’s the grand scheme answer. As far as the little things are concerned, I would love to  have a “do-over” on a photo job i took over a decade ago where I miscalculated some light measurements and the lighting was terrible. The photos didn’t turn out well, and unfortunately i was the only person taking photographs at all; and as a result the event had no photos that were display-worthy.


Mrs. Wilkins (Social Studies Teacher):

Q: If you could be anything else in the world (besides your current profession), what would you choose to be?

A: Although I’m happy with my career as a teacher and my choice to study Anthropology, if I had a second chance at it, I would definitely study medicine.  I’d really like to be a trauma doctor or nurse and work in an ER.  I’d especially like to do trauma work in a conflict zone somewhere in the developing world.

Q: If you could be a cartoon character from any show in the world, which cartoon character would you choose and why?

A: If I were a cartoon character, I would definitely be Ren from the Ren & Stimpy Show.  I love gross humor and I’m small and kinda funny looking anyway.

Q: If you could ask anybody of your choosing for advice, who would you choose, and why?

A: At the risk of sounding self-centered, I honestly have to say that I would ask my future self.  I think the most applicable advice would come from someone who truly understands me.  Being able to seek advice from, say, my 60 or 70 year old self would be tremendously helpful in providing perspective on current issues in my life.


Mr. Emmich (Social Studies Teacher):

Q: If you could go back in time and change something you did, would you?  Why or why not?

A: Despite it’s being an attractive thought, I don’t think I’d go back in time. I tend to believe that any changes I’d make would be worse than the initial reality. Sure, I might be able to fix one small detail, but there are surely a million other things that I would have messed up, and I would end up with some catastrophic difference. Knowing me, I’d do something that would end up destroying the world.

Q: If you had to choose one specific meal to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

A: Good God, you might as well ask me what the meaning of life is. If I were forced to answer, I would probably say that I’d eat some sort of Thai dish for the rest of my life. I’d have to really sit down and decide which exact dish, but I love Thai food so much that I think I could live with it. I have to admit that I have eaten Thai food for breakfast. I’m not proud of it, but there have been times.

Q: If you could be anything else in the world (besides your current profession), what would you choose to be?

A: If I had thicker skin I would love to try being a writer or a stand-up comedian. I think I get to try my hand at comedy as a teacher by cracking jokes throughout my lessons, but it would be interesting to see if I could make strangers laugh. It’s different when I can’t control someone’s grade. I probably wouldn’t be so funny then. As far as writing, I just love words and I am always writing something, but I rarely have time to commit to anything serious. But if it were my vocation, I think I would love to be a novelist. I just like interesting fictions and I can spend hours thinking about one sentence that interests me. I guess that makes me a complete nerd, but I don’t object to that characterization.

So there you have it; the REAL story of the teachers we love!

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