Where did you go to school?
Valley Stream South High School in New York. I graduated in 1984, and then I went to Hofstra University.
Were there any fads at your school?
It was the 80s; we had a horrible sense of style at the time. The girls all had mousse and hair spray and the guys had mousse and hair spray- we all looked like Bon Jovi, I guess.
How do you think high school has changed since you were a student?
I don’t think it has- you still have the same exact cliques. I think the movie The Breakfast Club should be a mandatory viewing for everybody- it was made in the 80s when I was in high school and it talked about all these different cliques, and all those cliques are still here. You’ve got the non-conformists that don’t want to conform by not conforming the exact same way as each other. You’ve got the jocks and the princess just like in The Breakfast Club. Nothing has changed at all.
What was the most important thing you learned in high school as a student?
Knowing Mr. Mulhearn. He was the computer teacher back in high school. Being a computer geek before it was fashionable, I hung out in the computer lab. Mr. Mulhearn had kind of become my mentor. He was really like a second father to me. Me and my friends would go over to Mr. Mulhearn’s house on weekends and hang out with his family and kids. We affectionately called his wife ‘mom.’ And today I’m still friends with him, his wife and kids on Facebook. That kind of student-teacher relationship that would not exist today. I still consider him to be my mentor and so much of the stuff that he did in the classroom as a teacher, I find myself doing.
When did you graduate college?
That’s an interesting story. In 2003, from University of South Florida. I spent a few years at Hofstra, changed my major a few times. I went from computer science to business computers to radio broadcasting, and then didn’t graduate. I went to work in the business world for a dozen years, and decided I wanted to be a teacher. But I didn’t have a degree. You need a degree to be a teacher, so I went to USF to get my degree and finally graduated in 2003. I spent eight years in college for a four year degree. That’s why I advise everybody to go to community college and get their liberal arts credits out of the way, get that associates degree, and then they can always build on it later on.
How did you get into radio broadcasting?
It started out as a hobby. My older brother, Mark, was in radio professionally and I had grown up around him. He was seven years older than me and he knew that’s what he wanted to do since he was in high school. I was always around him practicing his fake radio station in his bedroom. He made me listen to his fake broadcasts and critique him and everything. So, when I was in college as a computer science major, one summer I wandered down to the campus radio station and figured, ‘hey if my brother can do it, I can do it,’ and I just fell in love with it. So I changed my major to radio broadcasting.
Do you think it is important to have an idea of what you want to do before going to college?
It’s helpful. I don’t think it’s very realistic though. I changed my mind so many times. When I was in high school, if you told me I was going to come back and be a high school teacher, I would have said you were crazy. It was nowhere near my plans. Not on my radar at all. I was going to be a computer programmer. And then I decided I was sick of dealing with computers and enjoyed dealing with human beings instead.
Why did you decide to be a teacher?
Well I had quit my job to become a full-time father for 14 months and during that time I started teaching Sunday school at the Jewish Community Center to high school kids. And I recognized that I really enjoyed doing that. I did some soul searching, and after a while I said, ‘well what do I want to do?’ I didn’t want to go back to advertising and marketing and broadcasting because it’s a dog-eat-dog world. I really enjoyed teaching and interacting with the students. In the corporate world, I did a lot of outreach with schools and students, I brought high school students to my recording studio and recorded some stuff for The Talking Yellowbook that I used to work for, and I just really enjoy working with kids and so decided that’s what I wanted to do.
If you could say one thing to the teenagers of today, what would it be?
Make good choices. I mean, it sounds cliché, but it’s the essence of economics which is what I teach. Economics is all about thinking about what you’re going to do and analyzing the choices to make decisions. Just look before you leap and expect life to throw you curveballs- be prepared for them. Life has lots of twists and turns, so be willing to accept new opportunities.
Megan Varde/Graphics Editor