By ZOË MYERS
Jeff Partain is a new 12th-grade English teacher at Citrus Valley High School who graciously provided his thoughts of his new school and of his experience being a journalist for Virgin Records.
Q: Welcome to CV! How are you liking it so far?
A: I’m liking it a lot. I think it’s a cool school. I’m liking the students a lot, liking my classes, liking my faculty, staff, and administrators. The funny thing is I recognize a lot of people because they used to work at my old school [Redlands East Valley High School] that I taught at. It’s almost like a little family reunion!
Q: Is working at Redlands East Valley any different than at your new job? If so, how?
A: Not too much. I feel like students no matter where you teach, not to say they’re aren’t unique things depending on where you teach at, are pretty much the same. The big difference I’m adjusting to, and I thought it was just me, but other teachers are having to adjust…to, is block schedule. To not have block schedule, and teach six classes an hour each a day, that’s a little bit of an adjustment.
Q: It is an adjustment for the students as well. Tell me a little about yourself outside of teaching.
A: Besides teaching outside of Citrus, I also here-and-there teach English 101 at [San Bernardino] Valley College, I love writing and literature. Music is a passion of mine. I also love movies and film. My family is a massive priority to me. My kids are both in middle school, so I just tell people that my wife and I are kinda at a time in our lives where we are pouring a lot of energy into our kids, trying to get them all of the love, support and encouragement that they need to hopefully be successful.
Q: I know you were a journalist for Virgin Records. Who was your favorite musician that you met, and can you tell me about that experience?”
A: Oh man! Yeah, there are a couple [of] good ones. I got to interview a lot of music people and also got to meet a lot of interesting people. I have probably two favorite stories. They were both kind [of] pleasant accidents! One time when I was on Melrose Avenue, I ran into Morrissey. Morrissey was an all-time lyrical genius to me. I got to meet him and got an autograph. My son’s middle name is Morrissey!
I have been given tickets to see Radiohead, one of my all-time favorite bands, to a really tiny show as their album “Okay Computer” was coming out, and they were playing a tribute. It was impossible to get tickets for! It was one of those things where it was so wild, there were so many famous people at that show. It was crazy.
And so, a funny story was, because I had all-access tickets, I ended up at one point sitting with with Dave Grohl and all the Foo Fighters at the private bar. Dave Grohl bought me a tequila shot and I did tequila shots with him! And then I got to meet the guys from Radiohead after.
Some of my best memories were working for Coachella, I got to sit at the first press conference with the Pixies when they reunited. I interviewed Muse before they broke big, after Coachella. That was really awesome, a great memory. I interviewed Kings of Leon, way before they got started. It was a cool time to get to know some bands before they really got started.
Q: That’s insane! Back to teaching. What can we expect from your teaching style?
A: That’s a good question too! I believe English is almost a special beast, so to speak. I really think kids, especially when it comes to writing, and really [like] sharing some of their thoughts about reading and literature. I just feel like it’s one of those classes where the teacher almost has to be like a student as well. We’re all kind of learning together. And the truth is, I might have more experience with writing through age and time and opportunities that have been given to me, but I’m still learning how to be the best writer I can be. I feel like we’re all doing that together.
I really like a lot of modeling and working on this together. Not only do I love writing and literature, but I love working with teenagers. I get to do a lot of that at once, which is awesome. I try to do a lot of…showing kids that writing is a process, and not just [perfect first drafts]. It’s a continual process and you can always be making something better.
Q: What are you most excited to teach your students this year?
A: I really…am motivated. I love literature, I love the fact that I’ll be teaching “1984!” And our current culture and society is making it more relevant than ever. [I also love] “Hamlet,” which is one of my all-time favorite books ever! “End of the Wild” is one of my all-time favorites too. I legitimately feel like it changed the way I feel and think about certain things. I think English is one of those things, at least for me, where you think a lot of things about life and relationships and the world we live in. We have amazing work and assignments to write about and process, and try to pass that opportunity along to some of my students. We get to read a lot of great stuff senior year!