By Aaron Jackson
At just a little past 3:00 pm, Mr. Tramm donned a black hoodie and khaki cargo pants. Then, as he prepared to enjoy two donuts purchased at the Love Café right across from the school, he welcomed me into Room 136 to begin our interview. He is a busy man at the moment, because besides teaching English as well as History classes at Manhattan Center, he also works with the MCSM Music Club.
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Q: How long have you been teaching? And specifically, how long at MCSM?
A: “Twelve years overall… and it’d be 8 years at this school.”
Q: Where did you study?
A: “You talking college? Well, I got my Masters in the science of teaching at Long Island University.”
Q: So, why teach History and English?
A: “Well, I needed a license in a required field and I enjoy teaching those subjects. They’re not as regimented as say math or science; there’s more room for opinion, more room for debate – that’s what I like about history and english.”
Q: While we are speaking about you as a history teacher, what is your stance on incorporating modern day politics within the classroom?
A: “I think that an important job of any teacher is to make future responsible citizens. To that end, it is important to teach young people how to think for themselves , form their own opinions, be critical of others and how to measure right and wrong. So with that said, while teaching current events in the classroom is of some value, if you stay stuck on those current events, you get sucked up and totally miss out on the value that studying history itself has to offer.”
Q: Although it’s for the most part taboo, do you think that sharing your political views within the classroom is of some value … at least to some extent?
A: “I think your question requires we distinguish between political views and societal views. Because in some respect they are different, but in some respects they are tied. For example, to discuss who I am going to vote for and why, is not my place in the classroom. But to discuss for example, what Bill De Blasio has done for education is of some value.”
Q: In your classes, you often go on tangents that sometime result in you claiming that you’d much rather teach so-and-so over History or English. If you had the opportunity, would you teach any other subject?
A: “That’s a hard question…Theater. I like performing and acting in front of others.”
Q: Have you done any theater work, professional or not?
A: “Well, I have taken [theater] classes in college, and have performed in front of others.”
Q: Since this is your second year teaching APUSH, how’s it going so far?
A: “I very much enjoy teaching history overall. I’ll be honest with you, when the former APUSH teacher, Mr. Musialik was unable to continue teaching the subject, I was presented with the offer. I knew it was a challenge and I was willing to take that challenge.”
Q: Moving on, since you are the music club advisor, would you mind giving us a rundown of what exactly you guys do?
A: “Well, we play music. We have a large collection of instruments: string, brass, and percussion [instruments]. We get together to play music and the students choose the genre. It’s been mainly rock and roll and pop, but we’ve been getting a bit more experimental recently.”
Q: What’s the club turnout like?
A: “There’s a solid 15 members that come every week, but we’ve had as many as 40 show up.”
Q: Do you guys put on shows or concerts?
A: “Yes – we do a music show where different people perform whatever they want, and sometimes we collaborate with the the glee club.”
Q: What kinds of instruments do you guys have? Are they school-funded or are they brought from home?
A: “The instruments are school-funded, but I have brought some from home.”
Q: Interesting, what instruments do you play?
A: “Guitar…Drums, Piano – a little bit.”
Q: Now that we’ve reached the end of our interview, do you have any clever quips or words of wisdom for our readers?
A: “Well…a wise man once said that ‘life is like a box of chocolates.’ ”