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Mr. Patterson, the Philanthropist
Mr. Patterson, seeming to be an ordinary math and English teacher at Kehillah, is actually a true celebrity. With his innumerable amount of adopted animals, determination to achieve big dreams, and popular YouTube videos, Patterson bares an uncanny resemblance to Angelina Jolie. To add to the list of similarities between them, both Angie and Patterson have fashion styles all their own and true eloquence. The one difference between the two is that Mr. Patterson is married. The reason for this farfetched link is because Jolie and Patterson are models of philanthropy. In keeping with the issue’s theme of Tikun Olam, Teruah chose Patterson because of his love for animals and his efforts to rescue them. When I sat down with Mr. Patterson, his articulate, sarcastic, and passionate responses allowed insight into what lay beyond the bowties and horn-rimmed glasses.
What song title best describes you?
“It’s The End of the World As We Know It”
What is your favorite movie and why?
Crank with Jason Statham because he’s totally awesome and that movie just rocks the house
Which wins your vote: Starbuck’s or Peet’s?
How did you develop your fashion style?
I waited for the old people in my life to die and I took their clothes. All of my bowties belonged to my wife’s grandfather and some of the undershirts I wear belonged to my grandfather. I didn’t wear bowties before I knew my wife. Before my wife and the bowties came into my life I wore a lot of square ties. They came from my grandfather also.
What was your very first job?
My very first job was delivering the advertiser newspapers with my brother. He was eight and I was six, and we loaded them in the wagon and dragged them around four blocks, putting one at every house. When it rained, Mom took us in the station wagon.
What is your most embarrassing moment?
There are so many to choose from. I’ve got a pretty good one up on YouTube; the wheelbarrow one. There’s plenty of most humiliating moments, but not necessarily embarrassing.
Who would you want to play you in the movie version of your life?
In the movie version of my life on a good day I would want it to be Ed Norton, and on a bad day, the more neurotic Philip Seymour Hoffman.
How many animals do you have total and what are they?
There is one horse1. There are two pigmy goats. There are five cats. And there are 12 dogs: The Rottweiler shepherd, the Greyhound, the two dachshunds, the ancient Jack Russell terrier, the three French bulldogs, the two pugs, the big, white hound dog, and Rosie.
How did you develop you love for animals?
They came as a package deal with my wife. I was afraid of dogs when I met her and she had a 125 pound Great Dane who was madly in love with me and thought it was a lap dog and would run laps around the room and tear up her furniture when I got there. And while the dog scared the bejesus out of me, you just had to love her. She was a great, big clown.
Did you grow up with animals when you were younger?
We had a cat and usually gerbils. But gerbils aren’t really animals that inspire you to love animals. They inspire you to be kind of grossed out because when one dies the other one eats it.
You are currently working on your PhD. What do you hope to do with it?
What I hope to do with it is finish it2. And then once it is finished I hope to actually start some research projects about the kind of learning opportunities that happen at schools like Kehillah. It is something I really believe in because I think that as education tries to change and grow to meet the needs of a more diversely abled student population, small schools with a lot of individual attention, with intelligent, caring people working at them seems to be a pretty good bet, so I think other people should look at that and go ‘hey, that seems to work, we gotta figure out how to do that too’.
What is your favorite song to play on the ukulele?
Right now it’s “Tom Cruise Crazy” by Jonathan Colden. Look it up on YouTube.
What is something you’ve always wanted to do, but never have done?
Learn to fly a plane
What is the worst punishment you have ever enforced on a student?
It wasn’t really a punishment, but I ended up doing a judo throw on a student while seated at my desk, tossing him onto the ground from an upright position.
What are three things you can’t live without besides coffee?
My homework grading pens, my cell phone, and a car
What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
I agreed to be interviewed by a sophomore.
17. Wow, did you just quote Mr. Zeldin?3
Did I? That’s so cool. He and I are blood brothers. Not really so much blood… Not really so much brothers either.
What is something about you that would surprise most people?
I am painfully shy at parties
“We got the horse when we bought the property in Yucca Valley because it was a rescue. Most of our animals are rescues. And the horse had been a roping champion for some twenty years and then there was a tendon in her leg that was torn so many times it’s calcified so she can no longer be ridden and the person who had cared for her and owned her for years had died and the family had wanted to send her to a rendering company,” explained Patterson. When I asked what a rendering company is, Patterson replied, “A rendering company is a good thing to look up. Use the dictionary.”
While Patterson strives to complete his PhD, I couldn’t help but wonder how soon he hopes to finish it: “How soon can I call you “Dr. Patterson?” I inquired.
“I’m shooting for late June,” he responded with a sigh of exhaustion.
In the first issue of Teruah, when Mr. Zeldin was the “Teacher of the Issue”, Zeldin stated that the craziest thing he ever did was agree to be interviewed by me.