Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Punk, done well.

I was in Boston over the weekend for about 24 hours. Friday night i saw Shepard Fairey's show at the ICA (which was incredible). As was the closing party with Chuck D. performing. Before that I sat to be interviewed for the Shep documentary, with director Helen Stickler. Prior to that, just after getting off the train, i hung out with some really nice folks at the GLP creative studios, where i learned some interesting stuff about where digital photography is at right now.

On saturday morning before i left town i got to have breakfast and walk around town with my old friends Al and Nancy Barile. Al of course was the leader and lead guitarist of Boston's most important and influential hard core band S.S. Decontrol (he's doing fine!) But this post is about former Philadelphia scene den mother of Sadistic Exploits, Nancy Petriello Barile.

Since the old days Nancy has become an award winning high school teacher, who's had several articles written about her in the mainstream press. Here's one of my favorite USA Today clips:
At 35, she landed the job as an English teacher at Revere High, and since then, she seems to be making up for lost time. She attacks her job with the energy of a whirling dervish, using her easy laugh, infectious enthusiasm and creative teaching methods to push her students to succeed.

"Nancy's a constant innovator," says her department chair, Jonathan Mitchell. Barile works hard to make sure the students at Revere, many of whom come from struggling immigrant families and 63% of whom qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, stay interested in the subject matter and see the connections to their lives and the world around them.

In a discussion of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles and Kate Chopin's The Awakening in her Advanced Placement English class, for instance, Barile illustrates a point about the female characters' predicaments through references to Hillary Clinton and Gwen Stefani.

One of her favorite lesson plans is called "old school/new school." Students choose a piece of poetry from the literary canon and compare it with the lyrics of a favorite pop song. "Recently a student did an amazing analysis of a Phillip Larkin poem with a song by the Smashing Pumpkins," she says.

Says Mitchell, "She shows her students that poetry is timeless and that it's all around them."...

She lives in Revere, not far from the school, and she walks to and from work, purposefully walking along the roughest streets of the neighborhood in which many of her students live. "I think she's crazy," Mitchell says with a smile betraying admiration.

But walking where gang gunfights and drug deals have transpired over the years has brought reassurance to students who live in the neighborhood, says Tany Ban, a former student of Barile's who grew up along Shirley Avenue in a tough part of town.

"I'd see her on the street — she was always part of our community, and she was a role model. She made me think to myself: 'There are other ways to go about your life. You don't have to be here.' "

For her part, Barile was determined to see Ban go to college. So she signed him up for a Kaplan SAT prep course and paid for it, presenting him with the registration packet one day at school. "She makes it so you have no choice but to better yourself," Ban says, laughing. After attending Boston University, Ban, too, is back at Revere High — as a math teacher.

"Nancy's the complete package," says her principal, David DeRousi. "There are some people who can see what kids need both inside and beyond the classroom, and Nancy has that gift."
And here's a few other pieces:
Christian Science Monitor
USA Today
Hat's off! Much love, and respect to my old friend Nancy.


  1. The world needs more examples of individuals like this.

  2. Hey Glen,

    Good to meet you at the Shep show in Boston! I was the dude who originally asked for a pic together but then realized that it was really important! The same guy with the signed copy of Fuck You heros. Anyhow, just wanted to give you a shout out!

    Keep doing your thing!