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Winter Teacher Spotlight: Mr. Bassi

By: Emma Callahan and Ella Garbarsky

“My hidden talent is cutting down invasive trees," Mr. Bassi tells Emma Callahan and Ella Garbarsky, writers for the Conard Courant. Teachers are placed at the center of this month's edition, as the two writers aim to showcase educators like Mr. Bassi, whom the Conard students all know and love. Particularly, the two girls write this piece to shed light on Mr. Bassi’s life, stretching beyond the scope of the classroom.

The two girls have known the history teacher since their freshman year, where he first introduced himself as the Conard Courant Advisor. His kind and welcoming spirit left a lasting impact on both Emma and Ella throughout their time at Conard.

After sitting down with Mr. Bassi in a recent interview, Emma and Ella found that his life—like all teachers here at Conard—spanned much further than within the walls of his classroom.

Mr. Bassi had not always been confident that teaching was the job for him. For the majority of his life, he was torn between a career in law and teaching. However, after working at the justice department for a summer, he found that he “did not fit in” and claimed to “absolutely hate it.” Prior to that summer, Mr. Bassi worked as a camp counselor and loved it; he found that working with children came naturally to him. After Mr. Bassi got a better feel for these two careers, he decided that teaching was the one for him.

When asked about his most rewarding moments in teaching, Mr. Bassi had a hard time identifying just one; he claimed that "every year there is going to be something rewarding because there's going to be a beginning and growth over the year, which is not true to every profession." Although Emma and Ella found this new information very interesting, they wanted more; they wanted to know who Mr. Bassi was outside of the classroom.

With this goal in mind, the two girls asked Mr. Bassi to walk them through a typical day in his life. Mr. Bassi set the scene with a morning that consisted of breakfast with his son, who has just entered his first year of middle school—an "extra-special part of his day," claims Mr. Bassi.

After breakfast, Mr. Bassi goes through the typical 8-period day, similar to the everyday Conard student. Then, when the school day is over, he heads home and spends time with his children, which involves various activities, such as practicing soccer with his daughter.

However, this isn’t all the Conard history teacher does when he hangs up his teacher badge for the day; he also tells the writers that he loves to work in his yard. This is precisely where Mr. Bassi confirms his hidden talent as “battling invasive species," as he very much does not appreciate “invasive plants” such as trees or shrubs encroaching on his yard or other precious pieces of nature growing on his property.

After a long day of teaching and battling plants, Mr. Bassi enjoys a quiet evening with the nightly news on, which he finds himself to be "religious" about, which in retrospect can be deemed a good quality for a history teacher. He leaves time during the rest of the night to hang out with his kids.

As much as Mr. Bassi can be perceived as a family guy or an “invasive tree hunter," there is no doubt that through and through he is a teacher at heart. When asked if “he could have lunch with any person—dead or alive?" Frederick Douglas was his immediate answer. As a history teacher, Mr. Bassi claimed to have a “million questions," particularly about all the individuals Douglas had met during his lifetime. This is a true testament to Mr. Bassi’s passion for those who shape history.

Emma and Ella are very grateful for the time Mr. Bassi has spent with them during this interview. The girls knew Mr. Bassi would help them with the enthusiasm and kindness he brings to Conard every day. Emma and Ella are very happy to showcase a part of Mr. Bassi that not everyone has seen.

Thank you, Mr. Bassi!

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