workzine

Matt Love, 9/28/2009

Current Occupation: English teacher, Newport High School, Newport, Oregon
Former Occupation: sportswriter
Contact Information: Matt Love grew up in Oregon City and is the publisher of Nestucca Spit Press (www.nestuccaspitpress.com) and author/editor of The Beaver State Trilogy and Citadel of the Spirit: Oregon’s Sesquicentennial Anthology. He lives in South Beach on the Oregon Coast and his latest book is Super Sunday in Newport: Notes From My First Year in Town. He’s a regular contributor to the Oregonian and writes the “On Oregon” blog for powells.com. He teaches English and journalism at Newport High School and is currently working on a book about the filming of Sometimes a Great Notion in Lincoln County in 1970.

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How to Become America’s Worst High School Freshman Advisor

With apologies to Lorrie Moore

First, forget you were ever a high school freshman and that sniffing glue and shoulder tapping were once serious ninth grade offenses. Forget that today some freshmen shoot their teachers instead of keying their cars or hack into their email and access porn from the library computer.

Hope for the return of the military draft (this time, women too) and the reintroduction of the phrase “cannon fodder” into the lexicon of American political life. Hope for the reinstatement of corporal punishment in public schools and that electric guitars drop from heaven. Hope that a 14-year old kid eating a hot dog and wearing a baseball cap sideways doesn’t show up on your doorstep wanting to “kick it” with his newly found father—you.

Thank the gods that freshmen advisor period is only once a week, 50 minutes long, and is usually cancelled anyway because of assemblies trying to educate freshmen how to become productive, well adjusted and disease-free adults.

Next, remember that fast food and Ritalin are routinely digested together. Remember that trick or treaters take anti-depressants and many teenagers have never ridden a bicycle. Develop a mutual apathy, better yet aversion, toward helping the students plan goals. Accept as truth the statement from a girl wearing pajamas and green eyeliner who contends that establishing long range goals only sets one up for future failure. Accept as valid, quite possibly existential, the curt responses from a boy who went from redneck to emo two weeks after school started. He wrote: Personal Goal: Class. Academic Goal: Pass. Career Goal: Job. Skills: Blank. Interests: None.

Accept as Zen Buddhist the statement from the girl with a Rockstar and Red Bull on either side of her desk who refused to define and list her goals because, “I want to figure it out as I go along.” Don’t tell her she won’t ever figure it out. But do tell her she ought to read Twilight and become a vampire or fall in love with one.

Learn at least 15 different sugarcoated synonyms for the word “loser” and resist the fantasy of handing every student in your advisor group a copy of On The Road or Fear in Loathing in Las Vegas and telling them “this should be your plan.” Appear to care for the well being of every student and then discharge them from your mind like a rocket propelled grenade the minute the bell rings and they begin to walk out into the horny hallway to ultimately succeed or fail in American life despite anything you said or did or didn’t say or do as their freshman advisor.

And remember that you never had a freshman advisor and you turned out just fine.

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