The Forum Self-Interview with Billy Lombardo

Billy Lombardo Guest Writer Forum: So, Billy, we hear that you’ve been granted a sabbatical for the 2012-2013 school year. That’s ridiculous. Does everyone get one? Billy: Right? You would think. But no, only one person gets one a year. Forum: Interesting. Interesting. Billy: Why do you say it like that? Forum: Mind if I switch gears? Billy: Fine. Forum: Well, this is a great place to teach, isn’t it? Billy: You have no idea. Forum: It’s hard for us to think of a teacher who would actually choose to spend a year away from us. Billy: I actually know what you mean. I ran into Ken Bowen at the meat counter at the Whole Foods in River Forest. It’s a gorgeous suburb not far away from the suburb I live in, Forest Park, which also has Forest in its name. He said that one of the things that struck him early on during his sabbatical year was how much he loved teaching at Latin, and how much he’s looking forward to returning next year. Forum: I don’t doubt that. And you—why, it seems like you’re at the top of your teaching game. How do you feel about leaving us for a year? Billy: I think you’re right. I was just telling my 11th grade E-Block students that I thought I’d be nothing but excited at the idea of taking off for a year, but I find I’m going to miss it. Part of the deal is I’ve had amazing classes this year; my students would have you think it was all because of me, but I’m certain they had something to do with it. Forum: Only one person a year gets a sabbatical? Billy: Yep. Just one. Forum: Is it like a raffle? Billy: No. Forum: Did you have to put in a proposal or something? Billy: As a matter of fact, yes. Faculty members can apply for a sabbatical if they’ve been working here seven or more years. You write a little bit about how you plan to spend the year and the academic council votes, and the head of school and the President of the United States shoot hoops over it, and so on. Forum: How do you plan to spend the year? Billy: You keep calling it a year, but I think of it as a 63-week sabbatical. Or a 14½-month sabbatical. I’ve got a few projects I’m working on. My first order of business is working on a final revision of Homeschool Steffie: The Day of the Palindrome, a Young Adult novel. I’m also working on a play that we’ve got a September date for at Lewis University. I’ve got a book on the craft of creative writing that I hope to be working on with a couple of my colleagues at Latin. I’d like to write a novel during November. I’m going to grow an excellent mustache. Forum: That sounds like a— Billy: I’m not done, yet. My latest idea for a novel is about a boarding school for babies. Forum: Did you say babies? Billy: Yes, I most certainly did. Forum: That’s ridiculous. Billy: Right? A lot of my ideas are ridiculous. Forum: Are you working on any TV ideas? Billy: Well, I’m still thinking of a three-show pilot for Hugs and Punches, the show that starts with six pairings of people who greet each other at the beginning of the show with a hug, and one member of one of the pairings ends up punching his partner by the end. I have the song and everything. Forum: What about The Christian Puppet Show? Billy: I promised my mother I would no longer pursue that. Forum: Gotcha. Billy: I’m also going to learn how to make at least a dozen new soups. My wife loves soup. Forum: I love your bread. Billy: Same. Also, my hedges are going to be awesome. Forum: What about your hair. Are you going to do something about your hair? Billy: What are you talking about? Forum: It’s just that, in the back—never mind. Billy: That’s because I cut it myself, okay? Forum: This may sound like an odd comment, but isn’t Latin sort of paying you to be gone? Billy: Hmm… I guess you can say that. Forum: How else does The Latin School benefit from your absence? Billy: I beg your pardon? Forum: That didn’t sound right. I guess I’m asking how Latin benefits from granting sabbaticals. Billy: I think the idea is to reward a teacher for his/her service to the school and to give them time to pursue life-long interests. Latin’s hope is that teachers will return to the school rested and re-energized by their personal pursuits. Forum: Oh. That makes sense. Maybe just one more question. Billy: Arr. Forum: Why did you do that? Billy: Do what? Forum: Make that sound? That tiny barking sound? Billy: You yawned. I terminated your yawn. Forum: Rats. You did it again. That really works. I did it to my grandfather the other day. Billy: Nice. Forum: We’ll all miss that next year. Billy: You had one final question? Forum: Actually, three. I just thought of two more. Billy: Shoot. Forum: Will you be taking a sabbatical from Polyphony H.S., the most important literary magazine in the world? Billy: There is no such thing as a sabbatical from Polyphony H.S. I’ll still serve as the managing editor; I’ll still be in touch, daily, with Polyphony’s editors and readers around the country. My work with Polyphony H.S. will help me stay connected with Latin, actually. About 25 Latin students are national editors for Polyphony H.S. Forum: Can you tell us what you’ll miss the most next year. Billy: So much happens in the year of a high school student. It’s staggering, the growth students make from year to year. I hate to miss that. I’m afraid to miss that, actually. When you’re here every day, you have the opportunity to be in on that growth. I don’t like the idea of missing that day-to-day stuff that shapes students here. Forum: Last question. Who’s responsible for our hearts in your absence? Billy: You are, my child. Also Mr. Bower. Talk to him.      ]]>