Friday, January 23, 2009

Return to Jr. High

My love of writing all started back in 7th grade, because of this guy:

He's pretty dreamy, huh?

His name is Bernie Schein, and he was my 7th and 8th grade teacher. He's recently joined the Facebook phenomenon and in the past few weeks I've been updated consistently on my Home Page about Bernie's posts on former student's walls. Creepy? Inappropriate? Sketchy? Yes. He is all of those things and more. Which is why he was the most popular teacher at my school.

An explanation of my school is needed: Paideia is a private school in Atlanta, founded by parents in the 1970s. The first buildings of the school were old houses. (My 6th grade classroom was in the attic of an old mansion. Yes, it is as cool as it sounds. And my hand print is still painted on the eave representing the 6th grade class of 1998. Shout out to L & B's class! Wha wha!) Teachers are called by their first names. Sometimes couches are used instead of desks. It's a pretty laid back environment, where children are urged to be themselves and excel. Whether you wore Ralph Lauren and your mom drove a Mercedes, or you preferred to shop at the local dollar store and your mom drove a 15 year old station wagon Volvo, Paideia welcomed you and your uniqueness.

Before you start thinking Paideians held hands and sang Kumbuya every morning (which we most definitely did NOT), I'll being Bernie back into the picture. We were talking about Facebook.

I think it's safe to assume he's quite taken with Facebook. Being a graduate of Harvard, Bernie is pretty smart. And he's used his intelligence to learn that Facebook is a great way to advertise yourself, should you have something to advertise. Which he does. His book. Which was just recently published. (Fellow English majors out there will appreciate the title: If Holden Caulfield Were In My Classroom. Catcher in the Rye should pop into your mind (If you're smart)).

I'm famous, actually. I'm in Bernie's book. (Most of his former students are.) We aren't broadcasted as ourselves, but instead our personalities, stories, sense of humor, problems, and behavior can be identified throughout the whole thing. His favorite question to ask his students since publishing the book is "Did you see yourself in the book??"

If you're intrigued by what I've said about my school, and Bernie, you should go check out his website, and Paideia's website, Because by no possible means will I be able to explain Bernie and his philosophy of teaching, nor his personality, nor the difference it made in my life. And, this post is already too long. If you've made it this far, hang in there, it gets better!

Bernie is a pot bellied, potty mouth, balding, hysterical, crazy, freakishly smart, and freakishly caring old man. He called kids out on their crap, and he always spoke the truth. Being Real, was the goal in his classroom. And he tried to pull the "realness" out of every single kid. If you're real, you're being yourself, and when you're being yourself, you're happy. Pretty simple. We would then express this realness in stories. What we've learned about ourselves, how we've gotten to where we are through whatever obstacles we've come across in the past, etc. Hence, why I love to "dissect" the meaning in things. See One For the English Major Team post.

However simple it was, parents had to give the OK for their kids to be admitted into Bernie's class. That's how intense it was. It was a roller coaster ride of a junior high experience and some parents just weren't on board with the whole concept. Luckily, my parents were.

Anyways, you'll have to do some sleuthing on the web (i.e, go order his book, check out his website) to find more out about this fascinating guy. I have already done all this, and finished the book (rave reviews!), so I've spent my time today catching up on Bernie's comments on Facebook.

On trying to promote his book:

"Yo ___, it's me. Berns. Yep. Cool as ever. Have you read my book. Tell me what you think. You were a great student, reminded me naturally a lot of moi, though I was more the matinee-idol type, and you're not. Love, Bernie"

"Yo, ____. Right. Bernie here. Yes, the great one. CALM DOWN. CALM DOWN!!! God. Read my book, tell your parents to read it, and get back to me, if you catch my drift. Love, Bernie"

"____, Have you read my book. I mean, am I funny or what. I LOVE MYSELF. Love, Bernie"

There are more, much more, funny ones, but I'll wait to see your response to these and post the rest accordingly. For all I know, you guys might be the type of people who wouldn't want your kid (or future kid) to touch Bernie's classroom with a four foot pole. In which case Bernie would respond, with my absolute favorite response, "Why don't you take four running leaps and bounce up my butthole sideways!" ;-)

In conclusion, (Bernie, I hope you're happy and that this did you justice) BUY HIS BOOK. Happy Friday everyone!

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  1. From your post, I would've been the kid not allowed to take his class. Then I would've cried for being left out.

  2. I would have given permission whole-heartedly. What an experience you had!!

    P.S. I did my Scrap post today - come check it out if you get a minute.

  3. I love your blog...i'll be stopping by again! This story sounds interesting. Isn't it funny the teachers we remember from the old school days?

    Stopping by from SITS...

  4. Call Me Cate: You definitely would have missed out, don't you hate how your parents had to make decisions for you sometimes? ;-)

    Eudea-Mamia: It was an experience indeed! Love your scrap post, thanks for giving me a shout out!!

    hellosweetworld: Thanks for stopping by! Love your photography on your blog!

  5. My high school A.P. English teacher was quite a character too and had a "potty" mouth. And! SHE was a woman! I'll always remember her though. She could quote just about ANYTHING at the drop of a hat.

    Your school sounds pretty amazing, as does this teacher!

    BTW, I see you are from the Dallas area. We are having a blogger meet up on 2/28. Let me know if you'd like to join us. Em is planning on coming! : )

  6. That's awesome! I'm actually not from Georgia & although I live in Atlanta I haven't heard of your school (or many others for that matter) but it sounds fantastic!! I've noticed there is so much culture here, so it wouldn't amaze me at all to hear about parents founding their own school! I wish I could've went somewhere like that.