Good Talk: Mr. Caruso

From motorcycles to the Mediterranean

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Good Talk: Mr. Caruso

photo by Rin Swann and Sam Solenday

photo by Rin Swann and Sam Solenday

photo by Rin Swann and Sam Solenday

Samantha Solenday and Rin Swann

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How did you become a teacher at NASH?

I was the director of the writing center at Bethel Park High School, and in 1996, I got a phone call from former NASH principal Larry Butterini. They were looking for teachers who had a background in writing instruction and asked if I would be interested in coming in for an interview. At the time, I had no desire to leave Bethel Park.  I loved it there and had only been there for a couple of years, but then I came here, interviewed, and Dr. B. called me on the way home and offered me the job. It was impossible to say no.

If you could teach any subject besides English, what would it be and why?

I would love to teach a course on philosophy and ethics. I think those courses are needed today perhaps more so than ever before.

Favorite Pittsburgh sports team?

Well, my family has had season tickets for the Pittsburgh Steelers since ‘71. When my father passed away, I inherited his tickets. I played football for years, and it’s in my blood, but I’m also a big hockey buff. Can I be torn? I think football, but hockey is a close second.

What is your favorite way to spend your free time?

I have a couple of different things. I love to read, walk my dogs, ride my motorcycle. I’m kind of a loner, believe it or not, outside of school. I’m not very social, purposefully so, and I don’t know, I just kind of like being by myself and with my family.

Best vacation you’ve ever been on?

It’s so hard just because we’ve been on so many wonderful vacations. Most memorable trip would have to be our vacation to San Remo, Italy a number of years ago. That’s in the northwestern part of Italy above Genoa. We rented a car and drove into the south of France and spent some time there and then drove as far as Portofino, Italy. It was just beautiful.

Favorite book?

I’m always torn between The Catcher in the Rye and A Soldier of the Great War.

Favorite poem?

I think that the Pablo Neruda poem “Poetry” is perhaps right this very second my favorite poem. That could change when you two leave the room, but I think it captures the essence of that moment when poetry strikes the poet as something special. And he opens the poem with the line, “It was at that moment poetry arrived in search of me.”

Sales pitch for Creative Writing Poetry?

It’s unlike any other course you’ve ever taken, and it will likely be unlike any other course you will take.

Talk about your tastes in music.

It’s eclectic and wide-ranging, I think. I’m open to new music. We do the poetry from song assignment. I’ve been exposed to so much more material over time, so I’m open.

What is one thing you want your students to know?

What matters more than anything else is authenticity. Being an authentic friend, being a genuine son or daughter, and being an authentic human being takes precedence over everything. Being real and authentic, I think, is really something special.

What is the most interesting fact about you?

I have to be careful about what I reveal. I don’t know if I’m all that interesting. I think that I’m just honest, and that’s what people find interesting. I don’t have a lot of a filter. That’s a hard one… I am a cancer-survivor and an avid motorcycle enthusiast, and I own a 1996 Harley Davidson that is soon to be classified as a classic motorcycle.

Celebrity crush?

Taylor Swift.

Favorite other teacher at NASH?

I mean, there are so many. But Jamie Kyriazis, Coach K. I’m torn between him and Mrs. Rhinehart — but I’m afraid that if I say Mrs. Rhinehart, then Mr. Rhinehart will get jealous.

Guilty pleasures/worst habits?

I plead the Fifth. If I told you, I’d have to kill you. I don’t have one.

And finally, we have to ask… are you really in the Mob?

Wouldn’t you like to know?