A Good Guy

At the risk of jeopardizing his reputation as a curmudgeon, The Curmudgeon would like to tip his hat to a really good guy:  actor Tony Danza.

Seriously.

Eight years ago Danza came to Philadelphia to film a reality television series in which he taught high school English.  Danza, who said he aspired to be a teacher until the acting bug bit, taught just one class a day and found even that to be a humbling experience.  He learned first-hand how really, really hard it is to teach high school English in an urban high school that was by no means what one would call a “hardcore” urban high school.  Danza taught at Philadelphia’s Northeast High School, which is within walking distance of The Curmudgeon’s last home in Philadelphia and also is the archrival of The Curmudgeon’s alma mater, Lincoln High.

Danza’s efforts were chronicled in the A&E series Teach: Tony Danza, and he later wrote about his experiences in a book he self-effacingly called I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I’ve Ever Had: My Year as a Teacher at Northeast High.).  The book is currently on The Curmudgeon’s Kindle, awaiting its turn.

But that’s not why The Curmudgeon is writing about Danza today.  He’s writing because when Danza spent his time in Philadelphia he rented an apartment in the city rather than live in a hotel.  Because the cameras caught him agonizing over the challenge of teaching his class, really caring about what he was doing, and expressing real doubt about his ability to succeed as a teacher and genuine concern about the implications if he failed.  Because when the production company had enough material for the show and the cameras went away Danza insisted on staying with his kids for the rest of the school year.  And because ever since the show ended Danza has returned to Philadelphia at least once a year to host a talent show to help raise money for the school.  Typically those shows raise $20-30,000, which can do a lot of good for a school in a cash-strapped school district, and you know there are people who come just to see the celebrity.  Danza doesn’t just pop into town an hour before the show and leave right after it’s over, either:  this year’s show was last Friday but he arrived in town on Tuesday to catch up with his kids and his friends on the school’s faculty.

All of which suggests that Tony Danza is a really good guy.

 

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