This week, The Daily Quarterly speaks to Apopka High School English teacher Jay Haffner. Once we spit out our gum and quieted down, Mr. Haffner talked with us about the state of writing in American high schools, Dungeons and Dragons and the stunning lack of access to short wave radios during his childhood. Here is this week’s TDQ Q&A with English teacher Jay Haffner:
The Daily Quarterly: How did you hear about thedailyquarterly.com?
Jay Haffner: I heard about The Daily Quarterly through the wonders of social media. I logged onto Facebook one day and noticed I had a couple of requests to join some groups. Sandwiched in between the “I Lost 50 Pounds In 24 Hours” group and the “Dungeons and Dragons” fan page was a request for The Daily Quarterly. I figured, “Why the hell not?” on all three requests!
TDQ: How excited were you that The Daily Quarterly asked you for an interview?
Haffner: I was so excited about the interview that it actually took me a week to get back to The Daily Quarterly in order to do the actual interview. Sorry about that. Really.
TDQ: Would you say the level of literary excellence displayed every day on The Daily Quarterly is “sublime” or “unparalleled?”
Haffner: I would say the level of literary excellence, on most occasions, is unparalleled-ly sublime. On other occasions it’s simply sublimely unparalleled. Either way, I enjoy the read quite a bit.
TDQ: What made you want to be an English teacher?
Haffner: Well, I was always told as a kid to “do what you do best” and I figured since English is the only language I speak, then it must clearly be my best language. Also, I was lucky enough to be raised by a family of educators which means that even from a very young age I was adept at dealing with a life filled with financial challenges. Since I was so used to it as a kid, I figured why not carry on the legacy into my adult years and become a teacher!
TDQ: Who was your favorite writer growing up?
Haffner: Because I grew up in a family of educators we were never able to afford all the things that the “rich kids” had like televisions, or phones, or short wave radios. Because of that, books meant everything to me. I remember reading Shakespeare at a very young age and even acting out the scenes with my brother for my parents. I think they viewed it as an acceptable replacement to going to the movies.
TDQ: Who was your favorite Apopka High School teacher growing up?
Haffner: Well, I’m not actually from the Apopka area so I didn’t go to high school around here. But if I did grow up in the area I would have to say my favorite teacher would have been Ms. Beechum. For one reason, I’m positive she was at Apopka when I was in high school, and for another she’s a really great English teacher! I would love to have taken her class.
TDQ: What was the best career advice you’ve gotten?
Haffner: Good luck, kid. You’re going to need it.
TDQ: What was the worst career advice you’ve gotten?
Haffner: Being a public school teacher is the safest job you can have. It’ll never be downsized…you should totally apply!
TDQ: Twenty years ago, when we were in high school, our English teachers laughed in our faces when we told them our dream of having a news website with a large presence on Twitter and Facebook. What is your preferred method for crushing the hopes and dreams of your students?
Haffner: Ha. The easiest way for me to crush the hopes and dreams of my students is to turn on Fox News and tell them, “This is the crap you have to deal with. Have fun with that.” Two minutes of Fox News should be enough to crush anybody’s spirit.
TDQ: What are the challenges or advantages of using the internet and social media in teaching high school students today?
Haffner: The internet is probably the most effective and important tool I have when it comes to connecting content to real world scenarios and situations. There is so much information at the tip of my fingers it would be ludicrous, asinine, insane, beyond comprehension not to use. At the same time, I can’t really use the internet to teach because the county blocks almost every single valuable website from YouTube to New York Times Blogs. Go figure that one out.
Part 2 of our TDQ Q&A with Jason Haffner will run next Friday