I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had is television, screen and stage star Tony Danza’s absorbing account of a year spent teaching tenth-grade English at Northeast High -- Philadelphia’s largest high school with 3600 students.
Entering Northeast’s crowded halls in September of 2009, Tony found his way to a classroom filled with twenty-six students who were determined not to cut him any slack. They cared nothing about “Mr. Danza’s” showbiz credentials, and they immediately put him on the hot seat.
Featuring indelible portraits of students and teachers alike, I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had reveals just how hard it is to keep today’s technologically savvy – and often alienated -- students engaged, how impressively committed most teachers are, and the outsized role counseling plays in a teacher’s day, given the psychological burdens many students carry. The book also makes vivid how a modern high school works, showing Tony in a myriad of roles – from lecturing on To Kill a Mockingbird to “coaching” the football team to organizing a talent show to leading far-flung field trips to hosting teacher gripe sessions.
A surprisingly poignant account, I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had is sometimes laugh-out-loud funny but is mostly filled with hard-won wisdom and feel-good tears.
In this endearing memoir, Danza defies expectations by embracing his Taxi and Who s the Boss personae with self-deprecating humor and a deep appreciation for his new role as a 10th grade English teacher at Philadelphia s Northeast High School. With refreshing honesty, Danza recalls how the lows of his TV talk show getting canceled combined with his marital troubles propelled him to fulfill his long-lost desire to teach. The award-winning actor, with altruistic goals, reluctantly joins forces with A&E television to make his vision a reality and a reality television show. The kids in Danza s classroom seem to fit every stereotype of modern students, but the earnestness with which Danza approaches his year in high school is engaging. Throughout, the reader learns about Danza s commitment via his attempts to reach each student and to help them work through anger, parental problems, and social upheavals. He lucidly explains the plight of his students and his attempts to engage them with Shakespearean sonnets that may seem irrelevant to them and classic novels (Of Mice and Men; To Kill a Mockingbird). Danza s writing style is accessible to a wide audience, and while there might be a bit of the jocular boss left in him, he provides insights into a teacher s daily life.