Tell us about your early years at OSA. What made you want to teach at an arts school?
OSA was actually the only teaching job I applied for. When I heard there was a new public arts school in Oakland (I applied during the school's first year), I could suddenly imagine teaching high school. Arts, music specifically, was where I have my fondest memories of my own high school. Since it wasn't an arts school, the arts kids were sort of a subset of the larger population, and I related to them much more than my other peers. The idea of getting together a whole school of just arts students sounded like a great idea, and I wanted to be a part of it.
As one of the longest-term teachers, what are some of your favorite memories of life at OSA?
After 3 years at OSA, I moved to North Carolina for a year and taught at another charter school there. I was struck by the contrast, and I've since always appreciated the energy OSA students bring to the school. What I generally appreciate about life at OSA is that students are interested in the world, care about others, support each other, and often see their teachers as human beings they want to get to know. Hard to pick out specific memories, but for many years I would dust off my saxophone and sit in with the jazz band, and it was nice to interact with students in their element!
What is something about you that your students may be surprised to learn?
I guess anything in my life or past that's not in the realm of government, economics, or psychology, will sometimes come as a shock. Today in psychology class I applied something I had learned while working as an extra on Dawson's Creek that was relevant to the day's lesson, for example. For those who already know I'm a musician, I think this is a bit surprising because it's more in the "acting" direction (I do a very convincing job of looking like I'm eating in the background of a restaurant). Sounds like a few of the students are now planning to take on the Where's Waldo-like task of finding me, but they're likely to mostly just find a lot of early 2000s teen drama.
Tell us more about your band, your bagel-making, and your cat. How else are you staying busy during the quarantine, and what did you do in Before Times?
This must have become an interview question because these items have also surprised students at some point lol. My college roommate was also a musician and we formed a band once we were able to find a bass player and drummer. I wrote lyrics, sang, and played the saxophone. It was the 90s, so there's not a ton of documented evidence (our first recording was on a friend's voicemail and has since been lost to history). We did burn some CDs, and I've played a song or two for students who ask. I make bagels out of necessity, because when I moved here from Ohio I was pretty disappointed with the options (there are a couple decent ones these days, but they're very pricey). I recently tried making English muffins and was pretty pleased with the results, and I also bake challah and a Turkish flatbread, so well on my way to my fallback career. This summer, I adopted two kittens, named Monk and Bird, to join my quarantine pod. I've never been around cats that like each other before, so it's been kind of fun to watch them interact. Other than that, I go for runs, binge shows, play video games, and the other typical shelter in place stuff.
The kids love your podcasts...have you thought about making them accessible to parents and/or the public? Tell us about your process.
I am suspicious of this question's premise lol, but it is kind of nice doing my lectures in advance--kids can watch (and rewatch) at their own pace, which is probably less stressful than live, and I can focus more on activities and discussion in class, which is more interesting for me than talking at them. Who knows, maybe the podcasts will outlive the pandemic! As any good government teacher should, I'll let the people decide.
Thank you Mr. Taylor! We appreciate you!