The following interview was conducted by Ahad Ali, Magomed Evloev, and Roberto Giacomini in association with the Golden Falcon Newspaper.
The members of the Golden Falcon had a chance to interview Mr. Kleiman on his last day of the year.
Most of you probably know Mr. Kleiman, either from having him as a teacher or from having him barge into your class in the middle of a lesson, start telling corny science puns, and then run away to another classroom to repeat the joke. So, to the grade nines who will meet him next year or to the grade twelves who miss the punniest biology teacher in school, here are a few things you might want to know about him.
Like any students interviewing a teacher, we asked the basic questions first.
Student: What inspired you to become a teacher?
Mr. Kleiman: I’ve always wanted to be a teacher since I was 10 years old. I just loved it. When I was ten, I thought it was about explaining things to other people. And I’m good at explaining things. And then I grew up and realized that teaching was about who I am. I get a captive audience that I can brainwash with all the things that I find most important in my life.
Student: If you weren’t a teacher, what would you have become?
Mr. Kleiman: If I wasn’t a teacher, I probably would have gone into engineering. My dad was an engineer. My grandfather was an engineer. There was a time in high school when I thought I was going to be an engineer. Then, I snapped out of it and realized that I’m a teacher.
Student: Has biology and science changed as a subject since you studied it?
Mr. Kleiman: At a high school level, what we’re teaching here is fundamentals. What I think high school is ultimately about is making sure that every single person who is an adult in society is exposed to the same base of knowledge. Very little has changed in the way of content, but the world has changed. It’s 2016; there is technology now. What is happening in the world of professional biology is unrecognizable today from when I was in high school. It’s exciting! I truly believe that we are entering the age of biology. We have tried to solve problems in the past by trying to understand physics better. That did a lot of stuff, thanks to Einstein. We then moved on to trying to solve every problem in the world with chemistry. That’s been a disaster, sorry chemists. And now we are finally looking at the biologist’s answers. We’re looking at ecology and we are looking at genetics to try and solve world issues. It’s really fascinating.
The next questions we asked because why not?
Student: Do you think that biology will one day stop people from aging and dying in general?
Mr. Kleiman: I hope not. I think that aging and dying are a very important part of being alive and I think that that time limit we have forces us to use what we have to its fullest. I don’t want to live forever and I hope you don’t either. My goal is to live well, not forever.
Student: What is your best science pun or joke?
Mr. Kleiman: Ask your father. Whatever your father’s is, it’s probably mine.
I personally expected a cringeworthy but kind of funny pun that he had been saving up for a grand finale of some sort. To continue with the interview, we asked questions about him.
Student: What was your least and most favourite subject in high school, besides biology?
Mr. Kleiman: I loved everything. I am a huge nerd. I am the biggest nerd you will ever met. I truly believe that there is something fascinating about every single topic in school and I know that somebody, somewhere is dedicating their life to studying every subject ever. In high school, I was a sponge and I still am today. I can’t stop learning.
Student: What does it feel like knowing that you’re going to become a father now. Scared?
Mr. Kleiman: No. This is what my entire life has been leading to. I love teaching, and I’m ready to start teaching my own kids. It is the greatest journey that you can possibly be on. My wife and I have been so eager to start our family ever since we met each other, even before we got married. We wanted to have a family together. This is the best thing that has ever happened to me, period.
Student: Are you going to bombard your kids with jokes like you did with us?
Mr. Kleiman: Do children ever have a choice with that? Of course. But my main job as a parent isn’t to make them laugh, it’s to embarrass my kids. The number one role for any parent is to make their child really, deeply embarrassed. My goal is make my kid’s life harder for them so they learn how to face adversity and just be ridiculous.
Student: What’s your most fond memory of Forest Hill Collegiate?
Mr. Kleiman: My most fond memory of Forest Hill is the people that I work with. The people in my science department are more than just colleagues. I work with my closest personal friends. Coming to work every day to your best friends that you respect deeply; that’s my favourite thing about Forest Hill. A really close second is having the opportunity to teach biology. I’m alive when I come to work because I get the privilege of sharing with you what is the most fascinating stuff in the world in my opinion.
Student: Who do you think is the best teacher in the science department?
Mr. Kleiman: Oh, god, if I say that in a newspaper I’m done. I have an opinion about it. But here’s my actual answer to that: it’s something that Mr. Naylor taught me. Mr. Naylor said we need Kleimans and we need Naylors. That’s stuck with me. There isn’t a best teacher. Teaching is an art, and just like there is no greatest artist in the world, there is no greatest teacher. Everyone needs a different style and what people need is a variety of teachers. So I know who has my favourite teaching style. But as far as the best, it doesn’t exist.
Student: Since this is your last year with us grade twelves and you won’t be seeing us graduate, what do you want us to remember you by?
Mr. Kleiman: Oh man. I’ve been teaching so long. In my grade 12 bio class, I’ve been teaching half those people since grade 9. Number 1: I’m proud of the people you guys are becoming. It’s beautiful to watch you grow up. What do I want you to remember me by? God, I’m not dying. I’ll be back. I’ll be visiting.
Student: We won’t be able to see you that much, so what do you want us to remember you by? Like, the guy who made puns, the guy who’s enthusiastic about science, or just a bio teacher?
Mr. Kleiman: No, I want people to be passionate about what they do and to be kind human beings that are guided with a moral compass. Put ethics before everything else. Do what’s right.
So there you have it: a brief interview with Mr. Kleiman. Most of you are wondering: well, what was the point of this interview? He’ll be back next year; we can talk to him then. Well, the answer is: because we can and we did. In actuality, it’s to show you what is in store for you if you continue to take biology and have the chance to have Mr. Kleiman as a teacher. He is a man that truly loves what he is teaching. He will make you enjoy biology whether you like it or not. Additionally, he will make you laugh with his puns and might even inspire you to be a better person. Finally, from to the grade nines entering this or year to the great twelves leaving, Mr. Kleiman has one important thing to say to you: “Live like you have no limits.” In other words, don’t let anyone, even yourself, stop you from getting what you want. Frisbee is looking for new members, mostly girls, so we can continue the historic campaign that Kleiman started last year.