During this interview Ms. Cunningham was accompanied by her son, Sean.
What do you think of the kids in your classes? Did they misbehave or are they generally well-behaved?
Well BSGE has great kids. Um, they’re generally really well-behaved. The misbehavior here is like slim in comparison to misbehavior in other public schools.
What kind of person were you considered in school? (popular, nerdy, etc.)
I was the girl on the outside. I don’t think I had a label. I sat in the back row with all the people who were labeled with all the hicks because I went to a school where it was like half agricultural and half college town so I sat in the back with all the hicks that came in on the tractors and stuff and the druggies. And I wasn’t into any of those things but I kind of didn’t belong. My friends were often in different grades than myself. Most of my friends were like a grade ahead of me in school. I enjoyed being the outcast, I’ve always been rebellious. I prefer to be called the outcast.
Who is the most influential person in your life?
When I was a teenager it was probably Mrs. Colo; she was my eleventh grade English teacher and she basically told me that I could do whatever I set my mind out to do and I’d never really heard that before and it was pretty amazing. Now my most influential person is my dad. Because he had polio when he was in his 30s and he lived with braces and crutches and as a kid I never really noticed because he was just my dad but I’ve seen now that he can enjoy a lot and he’s fine; he’s not bitter, he’s not angry, he never says he wishes things were different. And, I don’t know, that’s something to strive for. I would like to be that person. So, my dad is my hero.
Did you play any sports when you were in school?
Haha. No. My perpetual worst dream is that, I still have it today, that I actually never graduated from high school because I failed phys.ed. I still have that dream. I was the class note-writer. I would sit on the bleachers and forge notes from people’s parents.
What’s your earliest childhood memory?
Standing on the couch watching the snow fall in the backyard and thinking it looked like, amazing.
What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done?
Oh gosh, there are so very many. Um, probably running away from home, except I told my parents where I was going. But my friend’s parents, where I went, they were nice enough to let me stay there for 5 days. I was always fighting with my parents in high school. God bless my parents for understanding that I needed to be stupid.
What’s your favorite type of junk food?
Nutter butters. I buy them almost every day. I have a battle of wills and I always lose.
Are you strict with your students?
Am I strict with my students? No. I don’t think I’m terribly strict. Actually, that’s one of the things I’ve said to myself I have to change.
What makes you mad?
Kids who don’t take themselves seriously. Like, I’m fine with any kid who has real problems with skills or with, you know, stuff going on, I try to be as compassionate as possible. What drives me nuts is if you can do it and chose not to. Why would you do that? Why would you sell yourself short? That’s like the one thing that causes me to blow a gasket.
Do you believe in love at first sight?
I believe in friendship at first sight. And I believe that strong love comes out of friendship.
What’s your favorite perfume?
I don’t have any. I have this green tea spray and I don’t even know if it counts as a perfume but it smells like, so fresh and light. It smells good…so green tea.
What do you love about yourself?
I guess I love that I’m not afraid to take risks and try new things. Except forgoing the amusement park where I was totally scared to take risks. [Referring to the 8th grade trip we took in June to Dorney Park]. But I like to try new things. That I like about myself.
What’s something you don’t understand about life?
Why it’s human nature not to be the very best you can be. You know, I mean it’s always a battle. I know in my intellect what’s right and I often don’t do what’s right. And I notice that we do that kind of as a group. I guess that’s one of those things I’ll never understand. If we know why don’t we do?
If you were stuck on a deserted island and you could only bring 5 things with you what would you bring?
My husband. Is he a thing? And my son. My favorite book, an off-button for my son and a book of photographs. Presuming that there was food and drinks.
What was your last dream?
Well it wasn’t the one about failing phys.ed. thank god. Oh yes, we were in Costa Rico and I was being chased by a jaguar. I climbed a tree but I think jaguars climb trees so I don’t think that’s very realistic.
Sean: I dreamed about a tiger.
What’s your favorite food/drink?
Vietnamese iced-coffee. There’s absolutely nothing better then a Vietnamese iced-coffee. Dimsam. A trip to a Dimsam restaurant just to eat meat, meat, meat, meat. Does that count as a favorite food?
What are you really scared of?
Failure. I hate screwing up
Sean: Ghosts, be scared about ghosts mom
What superpower would you love to have?
The ability to read other people’s minds. Because then, I don’t know, life would be much simpler, right? We wouldn’t have all these misunderstandings and we could actually understand why people act the way they do. I think that would be cool