What is your cultural background?
I am a New Yorker, through and through.
Where did you grow up?
Franklin Square, New York.
If you could live in any other place in the world, where would it be and why?
New York is my first choice, but if I couldn’t live in New York I think I’d be pretty happy in Mexico City. It’s like New York, but it has public toilets. It seems like enough of a big city for me and it has a good vibe.
What type of kid were you in high school?
I got good grades, but deep down I was a fool.
If you were a student and had yourself as your teacher, would you meet the standards you hold for your students?
With a vengeance.
Where did you go to college? What was your major?
I went to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for chemical engineering, but I ended up getting an English degree from Hofstra University. I guess I was distracted by art and literature.
What is something you can’t live without?
My wife and a piano.
If you weren’t a teacher what would you be?
What is one life experience that taught you a lot?
For eight years I played piano in big bands with men and women who were much older than myself. It taught me a lot about music and made me a musician. I had to survive with those people, and I developed as a musician. I had to hear things and read music and deal with it when there was no music there. I had to be able to handle solos. So over time, it made me a good musician. When I started, I definitely didn’t think I’d ever get as good as I’ve gotten.
What are your hobbies?
I play piano, and I like to write and record music. I like to watch old movies—nothing past 1940. My favorites are movies that are allegories about economic systems. I’m also a long-distance runner.
What time period in history would you love to travel back to and why?
I travel back in time whenever I watch a movie. It’s pretty great to live right now.
What do you like and dislike most about yourself?
I’m ardent and have good intentions and work hard. What do I dislike most about myself? My teeth.
What’s your pet peeve?
Dishonesty of any type.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
The power to stop or slow down time, so that I could do everything. Or immortality, so that I could live forever and do everything.
What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?
It keeps you young but reminds you that you’re old. I like working with people. Teaching has taught me a lot about people. For example, if I was getting upset at kids, I used to remind myself that they were only kids. But then I found out that very old men that I played with in bands acted like kids, and I realized that there’s no difference. All people are deserving of forgiveness and will act juvenile. Teaching taught me a lot about not being overly harsh in my judgment of others.
What’s the best part about working at BSGE?
The kids are very intelligent and motivated.
What’s the worst?
I miss the huge whiteboards I used to have. Now I have limited whiteboard space.
3 replies on “Teacher of the Month: Mr. Yanek”
He is a great teacher as well as being a terrific son-in-law. Yeah, I’m prejudiced.
They have whiteboards now? Whatever happened to black boards. We need more eraser boppers. Used to let you know if you were the ‘teacher’s pet’.
he’s brilliant, a genius, and a good human being