…about four pages into what's tantamount to a prose-based documentary…you're sure to feel as if you've squeezed your adult self into one of those weirdly shaped student desks, hoping today is not the day Mr. D drops that pop quiz on you…Anyone expecting Danza to mug his way through the year is bound to come away shaken by the man's sincerity. And he has a knack for turning a phrase…we see a special, pedagogical kind of will on every page: the will to face a student's horrifying, out-of-school problems, or the will to devote hour upon unofficial hour to help a kid learn to read and, just as important, to feel good about herself.
In this endearing memoir, Danza defies expectations by embracing his Taxi and Who’s the Boss personae with self-deprecating humor and a deep appreciation for his new role as a 10th grade English teacher at Philadelphia’s Northeast High School. With refreshing honesty, Danza recalls how the lows of his TV talk show getting canceled combined with his marital troubles propelled him to fulfill his long-lost desire to teach. The award-winning actor, with altruistic goals, reluctantly joins forces with A&E television to make his vision a reality—and a reality television show. The kids in Danza’s classroom seem to fit every stereotype of modern students, but the earnestness with which Danza approaches his year in high school is engaging. Throughout, the reader learns about Danza’s commitment via his attempts to reach each student and to help them work through anger, parental problems, and social upheavals. He lucidly explains the plight of his students and his attempts to engage them with Shakespearean sonnets that may seem irrelevant to them and classic novels (Of Mice and Men; To Kill a Mockingbird). Danza’s writing style is accessible to a wide audience, and while there might be a bit of the jocular boss left in him, he provides insights into a teacher’s daily life. Agent: Peter McGuigan, Foundry Media. (Sept.)
“Breezy…Danza is able to shed light on a number of the underreported struggles teachers face.”
“In this endearing memoir, Danza defies expectations…[filled with] refreshing honesty…provides insights into a teacher’s daily life.”
“A witty, self-deprecating, and charming account of how being a teacher extends far beyond the four walls of a classroom. From sweating through his shirt to harboring adoption fantasies, Tony Danza depicts his brutally and beautifully real experience as a first-year high-school teacher. With humor and honesty, he highlights the emotional toll of teaching and describes how one of the most important careers in America is still one of the most unappreciated.”
Erin Gruwell, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Freedom Writers Diary
“At age 59 Tony Danza inexplicably chose to become a teacher at a tough, inner-city school. The story he tells is moving, eye-opening, and compellingly honest. Love infuses his work, and he cries a lot. Read this book and you will too.”
Joel Klein, former New York City Schools chancellor
“It takes a lot of courage to stand in front of a group of teens and proclaim yourself their teacher. It takes even more to be a good one someone who sees each student as an individual with a unique life story. Tony Danza put himself forward to teach children and learn from them, knowing that the more he really understood these kids the better teacher he could be for them. We easily forget how truly difficult it is to be a transformational teacher and in these pages you can see that’s what he became.”
Rosalind Wiseman, New York Times bestselling author of Queen Bees & Wannabees
“Tony Danza is filled with life, joy and the spirit of altruism – which makes him a natural teacher, as well as a perfect witness to the victories and tragedies in today’s inner-city classroom. Like teaching itself, this book is an emotional roller-coaster – but it’s also a sobering account of the perilous state of schools in our poor communities. This is a must-read for anyone who cares about the future of the nation’s children.”
Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO, Harlem Children’s Zone
“I highly recommend I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had to everyone who has thought about teaching as an encore career – and anyone who wants to know what life is like for teachers and students in American public school classrooms today. Tony’s book will make you laugh, cry, and cheer. It serves as a call to action for every one of us to take a stand and commit to the education of our young people.”
Sherry Lansing, Former CEO of Paramount Pictures and Founder of The Sherry Lansing Foundation
"A great antidote to all those pieces by folks who consider teaching glorified babysitting."
Approaching 60, with a canceled television series and a troubled marriage, actor Danza was unsure of the next step in his life. Inspired by a documentary on Teach for America, Danza (who holds a degree in history education) found himself in a Philadelphia high school, teaching a tenth-grade English class that was also being filmed as a reality show/documentary. His book covers one school year, alternating life-in-the-classroom chapters with "Teachers' Lounge" chapters that look behind the scenes and offer general comments on teaching and the author's experiences. Those with classroom experience may cringe at Danza's naive pronouncements: teenagers are moody, some "bad" kids are just mixed up, teachers work hard outside of school hours. Danza taught one 90-minute class each day and helped coach football; he also spent his own money to take students on a field trip to New York City. VERDICT Danza's heart is in the right place, and his respect for teachers comes through loud and clear. Though he offers little new insight, the book is easy to read and will remind readers of the struggle many students, teachers, and administrators endure daily. [See Prepub Alert, 4/15/12.]—Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley Sch. Lib., Fort Worth
Surprisingly thoughtful and passionate account of an actor's turn at the helm of an urban high school classroom. After his talk show was cancelled in 2007, Danza (co-author: Don't Fill Up on the Antipasto, 2008) faced a late-career crisis. Weighing his options and feeling personally dissatisfied, he considered becoming a teacher, which led to his show's producer pitching this as a reality TV concept. To his credit, the self-depreciating actor owns up to the obvious doubts readers may harbor about this book or the underwatched show behind it (A&E's Teach). Initially nervous in the classroom, the affable yet hapless Danza understandably reverted to his chatty, ingratiating stage persona, which failed to impress students in Philadelphia's largest high school. Fortunately, he remained open to advice from his more experienced peers and tried different approaches in the classroom. For many readers, his classroom may seem initially composed of various urban adolescent "types," but they develop into fully realized characters due to Danza's verve and care in discussing them. Danza is generous in praising the full-time teachers who, with some reservation, mentored him. The writing is slick and occasionally mawkish (in Danza's telling, some dramatic classroom moments were punctuated by him bursting into tears), but the author has produced a real discussion of the challenges faced by American high school teachers, rather than merely a celebrity self-reflection. He approaches this project with heart, though his conclusions are grim: "many of those who went through orientation with me have already left the profession because of cutbacks, frustration, and/or their own economic necessity." Teachers will appreciate Danza's advocacy, and perhaps readers who know him from TV will be moved to consider the urgent questions he raises.