Tony Danza's year as high school teacher gets October premiere

tony-danzaImage Credit: Charles Norfleet/PR PhotosWe’ve seen celebrities take on jobs before in reality shows, but committing to the length of a full school year is rare and commendable. Teach: Tony Danza, the seven-part series chronicling Danza’s stint spent teaching 10th grade English at Philadelphia’s largest urban high school, will debut on Oct. 1, A&E has announced. “Teaching is something I always wanted to do,” said Danza, who earned a degree in history education before his acting career took off. “Getting the opportunity to do it at Northeast High School and seeing the difference a teacher can make was really a dream come true. I hope the series shows what it’s actually like to be a teacher in a public school in America, and shines a light on some of the problems facing us all as we try to educate our children. I also hope it might inspire other people to think about how they might help.”

Under the guidance of the school principal and an in-room teaching coach, Danza plans and executes lessons, administers quizzes and exams, grades homework, attends faculty meetings, and holds parent-teacher conferences. He also helps out with the football team, the band, and the debate team, and organizes a school fundraiser. If this is as genuine as it sounds, it’s possible my most recent memory of Danza will no longer be him flipping his go-kart during a race with Rusty Wallace on his talk show. That would be nice for both of us.

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  • Erinn

    Really? I’ve been looking for a teaching job, with no luck, and Tony Danza gets to be a teacher for a year for a reality show. That’s crap. Is he even a certified teacher?

    • Erinn

      Ok so he has a degree in History Education, but still, does he really need the job?

      • Kylie

        Celebrities don’t need anything, they get waht they want. Welcome to America.

    • Javabooknut

      I can’t believe that people completely missed the point. He’s working in an at needs neighborhood in a city and there are job openings galore across the country in similar environments. In fact that’s what Teach for America does. Finds people from other careers and helps them become teachers.

      I don’t believe that this was about a “reality show’ or making money. This sounds like he was trying to shed light on the importance of teaching and how anyone can make a difference. It’s commendable that he took a year out of his life to do this. If this were a reality show stunt he would have been there a month.

      • Tammy

        I work in a “similiar environment” and there are NOT “job opening galore”. Our building staff of 90 in down to 40 and class sizes are intentionally overloaded st between 35-40 students, so that we need las staff.

        BTW, most people who join “Teach for America” teach less than 3 years before they quit to move on to their “real” jobs.

      • @ Tammy

        If you work as a teacher in that environment, I have some pretty big concerns. SPELL CHECK ALREADY!!!!
        -job openings (plural)
        -is (not in)
        -at (not st)
        -fewer, when referring to something that is counted (not las or less)

      • @Tammy

        I agree with the above comment… if you are actually a teacher, I am concerned about the teachers in our public schools. Actually, that is a legitimate concern…unqualified teachers in public schools.

      • MG

        @ Tammy Sat 08/07/10 10:42 AMIf you work as a teacher in that environment, I have some pretty big concerns. SPELL CHECK ALREADY!!!!
        -job openings (plural)
        -is (not in)
        -at (not st)
        -fewer, when referring to something that is counted (not las or less)

        Spell-check would not find any of the typos you indicated. And “less” is proper for time, distance and money. (Lynch, J. “Fewer versus Less.” The Lynch Guide to Grammar)

      • moni25

        javabooknut, you hit it right on the head. You absolutely took the words right out of my mouth. He is definitely trying to show where the weaknesses are and where change is needed. And coming from him it might be accepted and changed for the better for the children. Just a thought!

      • MstrT

        I agree w/ Javabooknut

      • northeast alum

        At risk neighborhood????????? No it’s not. The NEHS student body does include a wide socio-economic range. That said, as a NEHS alum I can tell you with certainty, NEHS is not an AT-RISK school. Please keep in mind, NEHS is a magnet school (has a certain honors program) and does enroll students from all over Philadelphia county. Some students are upper middle income if not higher, some much lower near or at poverty level. When I attended the enrollment was 2800…most were middle income families living directly around NEHS.

      • diane

        I agree. I think it’s nice to see someone doing something good for others. No, he probably doesn’t need the job and for that I appreciate his efforts even more.

    • anonymous

      Fair or not, he will always be more famous than people like us, and if properly executed his show can raise more awareness of teachers’ needs. Which is not to say a good documentary couldn’t have done so, because the right film maker could have made it. Still, if they put a positive spin on teaching I’ll appreciate it.

      • MS

        Anonymous-I completely agree with you. The problem is that no one would have watched a documentary. People may watch this.

      • Ginala49

        As a Lausd teacher, I am so happy that some celebrity took a chance like this to showcase what it is like to teach in a public school. It may not be perfect, but I hope Mr. Danza’s episodes are seen by many, and that attitudes about “bad” teachers get balanced with the thousands of great ones out there!! I applaud this venture..hope the public does as well.

    • Adam

      Tony Danza: High School teacher? And people wonder why the American educational system is in terrible shape! A few years from now, they should do a follow-up series featuring the students of Tony Danza: “Who’s The Short-Order Cook?”

      • Stephanie

        Do you know Mr. Danza personally? Do you know something about him I don’t where saying that him teaching shows the our teaching system is in such “terrible state”? Maybe this sad state of affairs our educational system is in has many more contributing factors than one man getting to life his dream of teaching after his life took a different path. Oh, and not many people even SAY teaching was a dream of theirs. Just sayin’.

    • Maria

      If you are really serious about teaching and you haven’t applied already, you should look into working in Uran schools like Danza. If the show is what I hope, maybe people will get a clue about how tough it is to be a teacher. More that 50% of us get out in the first 5 years! I’m in my fifth year working in a high needs school. It has been an amazing experience, but I still wonder if I can do it for the next twenty years. It is mentally, emotionally and even physically taxing (especially when you teach four periods in a row). I am soo tired of people who can’t even handle thier own kids complain about teachers. Like they could handle 150ish kids 34 at a time. The next person who makes a crack about summers off may wind up with a black eye.

    • Average Joe

      WOW!!! From Porn star to TV start to Teacher. This explains why our kids are so screwed up…we have former porn stars teaching to them! All you have to do is Google him to find out if this is true! but wait, most of you who don’t live under a log probably know that before Taxi, he was known in the porn industry for the Danza Slap! It was always easy to spot him with his Keep On Trucking Tattoo on his shoulder!

    • jorge

      I have another comment on your comment: I see your concern and energy coming through your few words but you need to go to a jobs center and get job finding training.

      Big Shot Danza has come up the hard way and evidenlty has some skeletons in his closet. He did not “get to be a teacher.” He wheedled and manuevered and leveraged and worked hard, and acting is a hard job but NOT as hard as teaching, which also requires acting btw. You need to learn that being “Lucky” or “getting a break” is actually hard work….and Danza is not Oprah or George Clooney. He is a nonbody like the rest of us doing the best with what little he has been “given” and yes it is not “fair” that the little is has is way more than you and I and most of us are ever going to “get”…

      You exude energy and concern and as Dr. Phil says (look at how he grabbed his opening to “get” what he has now!) you are not a bad person…so cut the “crap” and get busy being positive, painful by painful hard step and actually, go to law school if you want want “extra” money b/c society still is not going to triple teacher pay as is the real answer to all this….

      • jorge

        erKKKKKK! One cannot be one’s own editor. Tis impossible!

        In my citation of The Belle of Amherst I meant to type “Nobody” and not “nonbody” but I kinda like “nonbody”….

        We NOBODIES have to help the Oprahs and Danzas and “Superpersons” of the Education Super Stars help us nobodies and our “churn” as we cal the lil darlings down South…where there are tons of lousy schools (yes, even w/ lice) and NO unions!

    • Karen Clark

      I’d love to know if he is indeed a certified teacher in the State of PA. His degree is in Education, concentration History. He is teaching 10th grade English because…?

      I’m certified in 3 states, have 8 years experience teaching, just moved to NY, got my NY certification and can’t find a job – but Tony Danza can.

      The most interesting is from the LA Times. They reported that this series was filmed in 2009-2010. During that school year he taught for two periods a day, had a coach in the room at all times of instruction and finished the school year even though the show had ended filming.

      • Jane R

        If he really wanted to do a reality show about teaching in Philly, he should have taken on a full schedule of five classes per day and then go on to help with the band, football team, debate team, and organize the fund raiser on after school/weekend hours just as a real full time teacher does. Have him plan the lessons, write the lesson plans, and plan and grade the tests/quizzes and essays–just as a real English teacher does. Then show us how hard it is to be a teacher today with this type of class load–not with hand picked students for his show. He says how hard it is to be a teacher today–He can’t possibly relate to the challenges of full time teaching and coaching.

    • deena

      I think that ot takes courge to take on 10th graders.Not everyone can do that job

  • erin

    No, of course he’s not a certified teacher; hence the “in-room teaching coach.” It’s really following him doing a full year of student teaching.
    Also, if you’d like to work in the North Philadelphia public schools, there’s probably a job opening for you there, depending on what subject you teach.

    • Jason in MI

      Here, lemme google that for you:

      There are ALWAYS teaching jobs in the country, if you are willing to move to them, in work in places where the kids need good teachers most.

      • jorge

        Excellent response and fun use of language with “lemme google that for you”! Very positive and helpful!

    • Liz

      why isn’t anybody reading the article?? It says that he has a degree in History education before he started acting… he probably just needed updates with school policy and teaching guidelines that have changed in the last 20 years.

      • Glenn

        Ahem, you’re obviously not a teacher….Just because he has a degree does NOT mean he is a certified teacher. Certification is a different thing entirely.

    • jorge

      Very good reply and comment. Thank you for claryfing that he is “but” student teching and thank goodness doing so under supervision!
      Would this be a good idea to do with the “Lemons” and bad teachers?
      I would rather transfer them to Hall Duty or the janitorial staff however….

  • David

    I feel bad for anybody in his class named “Angela”.

    Soooo…. okay, I’ll ask: HOW OLD IS TONY DANZA!?!

    • Jane

      Old enough.

    • Tammy

      Why should that matter?

      • anonymous

        I don’t know about David, but I feel old realizing how much time has passed since I last saw him. So my thought along those same lines is about me rather than him.

  • Heidi

    I think it is commendable. A full year can make a huge difference in the life of that school and can shed light on how limited the budgets are at schools in poorer neighbourhoods. And Erinn, I think you could find a job in a school like Northgate.

  • Frank H. Lieberman

    His persona may not seem to fit a teaching mold, but Tony is one of the smartest and brightest actors you will find. I learned this fact by working with him for more than 10 years. I know he did this project not as an acting job, but as an opportunity to help teens. I worked with him on another series, “Gettin’ Over” in which he did more for ghetto kids than the scripts required. See the shows before you pass judgement!

    • Jacque Carlo

      Tony is a fine human being. One can just listen to him speak and know he is well educated. I would enjoy seeing Tony on any show, or performing anywhere. I think he has a great voice, speaking or singing. I would just like to know what he will be doing and where he can be seen. Thank Hallmark for putting “Who’s the Boss” back on TV., love that show!

  • ziggy

    This show sounds really interesting. As an English teacher myself, I’m curious to know what his curriculum consisted of. It should be fun to watch!

    • jorge

      Ziggy! Speaking of English teachers, what is the wealthy NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) doing to help, what with all their millions of dollars and members?

      Did Teacher Tony participate with them? How did they help? Does he even know of NCTE?

  • Dan

    I like Tony Danza but the idea of Tony teaching English strikes me as hilarious. He can barely speak the language.

  • stella

    I saw a “Today” show segment where they followed Danza doing this (probably and early plug for the show) and it appeared that he really embraced his role as teacher. I’ll give it a shot.

  • Angela

    With cameras on them, the kids will be on their best behavior. Don’t know how this will depict normal classroom dynamics in inner city schools. It’s rough out there and Tony Danza will be trying to show how great he is at it. Poor teachers are always getting the short end of the stick. It’s so much rougher than anyone can imagine.

    • chance

      The kids will be on their best behavior with cameras on them? You obviously don’t know kids.

  • bunny

    I think the point of Mr Danza taking the time to show the fullfillment of being a teacher is wonderful. My Aunt was a teacher and when I look around today and listen to the children sometimes teachers are running out of the school at day’s end quicker than the kids. A teacher has to have lot’s of heart, they have to help a child lwarn. Yes, Mr. Danza had a teaching coach; this is standard for every teacher to get their certification. A Teacher after they receive their degree from college does One year as a student teacer, much as a doctor has two years internship. This is to put what they learned into practical knowledge and add experience before they have to do it on their own.

  • MomC

    How can anyone criticize this action? Whether it is for personal gain or not. Education in this country is at a crossroads. Anything that gets public education attention is good in my book. Positive or negative, we need people talking and debating this subject.
    Second of all, there are inner city teaching jobs across the country. That is why Teach for America exists. So what if the teachers only last three years? It gives our students a diversified teaching staff and shines light on how difficult a job teaching truly is. The most memorable and inspired teacher of my entire student career was a man who did it for a few years so he could have a full time income during law school.

  • em

    The article says that Tony’s degree is in history education. Why was Tony teaching English. There is no way he was qualified to teach English if his degree is actually in history.

  • talkin’

    Get a grip – what he is doing will be very educational, for the students and the viewers. It may help change things for the better. It’s a large undertaking, with all checks and balances in place I’m sure. Best wishes to all involved.

    • Jessica Holden

      thank you he is a very swell guy i sat down with him plenty of times i even had luch with him at my school northeast high school so i would really appreciate if whoever is bad mouthing Mr. danza would excuse them selves from this because like everybody says education is the key so when he want to help out there is a problem even when nobodys doing anything about it there is a even bigger problem so why talk bad about him when he is a positive individual he did a very good job with his kids so all i got to say is stop hating on the man he just care for the childrens education wouldnt you do the same so give the man some respect.

      • jorge


        I LOVE (D) the concern and intelligence and kindness in your post.

        However, I know you did it “off the top of your head” and “off the cuff” and as a “stream of conscousness” entry and applaud you for calling for rational calm focus on this important topic.

        However, should you not edit and translate this tirade into good old smooth classroom English so some will not dismiss your writing?

        What do you think? Am I being 2 old fashioned in this tweeter txt world?

        BTW, I know you are a good writer b/c you show you can and do think for yourself and you r not rude, crude, mean spirited or negative! :)

  • Bubba Rondass

    It was made clear in the piece that he had an in room teaching coach, so no one was displaced. In addition, the project will likely put some $’s in the hands of that school district or Teach for America. I think, in the long run, if this turns out to be a meaningful depiction of teaching and the many challenging needs of students, that it will be great public relations for teachers.

  • bob hoton

    This is just another has been actor trying to be relevant.

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