Tony Danza

Dear Teachers,

Here is my little note of encouragement as you are either returning to yet another school year or beginning your teaching career. I wish you all the best year of your students’ lives—I know that’s what you all wish for. The truth is, though, that this is a tough time for teachers and it’s gotten tougher since I taught for one year at Northeast High in Philadelphia in 2010. I’m back there often and I was just there for commencement where six hundred kids graduated. The day was electric! That’s the good news. The bad news is that, the night before, there was a retirement party for thirty-four of the school’s teachers. Their overriding reason for leaving was the contract they’d been offered by the district. Being a teacher was never about getting rich, but the continuing pay cuts and further givebacks proved to be a tipping point for them. It’s too bad that teachers, after years of service, are forced to decide when to leave based on any issue other than that they are ready to stop doing what they love. No reflection on a job and career done well, just a pragmatic decision about money. To many teachers, this is the final indignity. There were tears. (more…)

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What does Tony Danza know about education?!

As an actor, Tony Danza had conquered nearly every entertainment realm—TV, the movies, even Broadway—when one day three years ago, he felt a powerful urge to chase a childhood dream and become a teacher. He’d been inspired by a documentary made by Teach for America, the organization that trains college graduates to teach in rural and urban public schools, and he wanted to give something back. After dazzling viewers of such hit TV shows as Taxi and Who’s the Boss? and delighting Broadway audiences, he figured that, even with his lack of teaching experience, he still stood a good chance of keeping a classroom of high school kids engaged. How hard could it be?

As he found out, really hard. Entering Philadelphia’s Northeast High School’s crowded halls in September 2009, Tony found his way to a tenth-grade classroom filled with twenty-six students who were determined not to cut him any slack.

In his new book, I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High,Tony shares experiences that ranged from the infuriating to the deeply rewarding as he relives the amazing story of what happened. In his tenure at Northeast High Tony did it all, teaching Shakespeare, working detention, assisting the music and drama departments, coaching football, and helping a special group of young people through some of the most daunting personal and emotional issues.

We invite you to watch Tony’s message to educators on his site, TonyDanza.com, where you can also find more information about the book and his upcoming events.

Click here to read a conversation with Tony Danza and Erin Gruwell, author of The Freedom Writers Diary.