Good Talk: Mr.Longo

Reese Marsalis, Reporter

How long has SADD been a club at NASH? 

Not exactly sure.  It existed when I started at NASH in the fall of 2003, and likely many years before that.

What do you want the student body to know about SADD? 

It is about students encouraging and empowering each other to make safe and healthy decisions. It is an inclusive club, and membership is open-ended (no deadline). We exist to support, not judge. It’s about positive peer influences!  That being said, members are asked to ‘walk the talk’, meaning to not consume alcohol, tobacco or any other drug, and to be responsible and respectful drivers, passengers and citizens in general

What does the job of Student Assistance Director entail?

I’m in charge of coordinating the Student Assistance Program (or SAP) here at NASH.  SAP is a system of support within the school in addition to and including the School Counselors and School Nurse, whose purpose is to identify and eliminate barriers to learning that students sometimes experience. Way back when (the 1980s), SAP was primarily focused on substance abuse, but it has since evolved to address mental health disorders, trauma, family discord, bullying, you name it. On a practical level, it is about finding and providing resources, both inside and outside of school, that help students  perform at their fullest potential, despite the adversities that they face.

I understand that you have one of the longest commutes to work among the NASH staff.  What’s up with that?

I was born and raised in the South Hills, and that’s where my family remains.  The commute isn’t all that bad, especially during the time of day that I travel.  It gives me time to get geared up for the day and unwind afterward.

What is your favorite part about your job?

My involvement with the students in SADD and Stand Together (mental health awareness/anti-stigma organization), without a doubt! However, a close second is providing support and hope to students referred to SAP. I especially enjoy facilitating student support groups.

Why did you choose this job? 

Midway through my college experience, I decided to pursue social work as a career, based largely on my own life experience with mental health challenges (depression) and family difficulties (substance abuse).  I had various jobs before ultimately landing in my role of SAP Coordinator here at NASH. I consider myself deeply blessed to be in this position!

If you had to change your job, what would you change it to?

Well, my first college major was Meteorology, and I still have a strong interest in the subject, especially severe weather. Then again, I think about owning a Dairy Queen or maybe a Chick-fil-A someday. I joke with some of my friends that I’d like to operate a combination Dairy Queen and retail pharmacy and call it “DQ Rx”. I envision people being able to sprinkle their medication right on their sundae.  Hey, why not?!?

What are your favorite hobbies outside of school?

My life outside of school currently focuses on my roles as husband and father.  My wife and I have a 7 year old daughter. She is without a doubt the light of my life and a reminder of God’s grace and beauty!  Oh, you have noticed that my Christian faith is also very important to me.

What is your most memorable high school experience?

My high school experience was largely without much drama or incident.  Unfortunately, I do have some difficulty letting go of the fact that I didn’t make it past the first round of baseball tryouts as a sophomore despite an impressive showing (at least in my opinion!). #ShameOnYouBethelParkBlackhawks

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

The ability to fly, no question.

What’s the craziest/weirdest experience you’ve had at NASH?

A student who was already involved in SAP came to my office heavily intoxicated with liquor in the water bottle she was carrying. It put me in a very difficult spot, wanting to help her but needing to follow school district policy. The student needed help badly.  Addiction is real and seeds get planted early in life.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

A little embarrassing to say, but it is definitely junk food. #SheetzFeelTheLove

NASH cafeteria order? 

A large order of fries (see previous question. I know I need help)

So, what’s up with the pose for this article?

I am purposely posed as a baseball catcher, in part for my love of the game, and also to signify that I’m here to “catch” anyone directed toward me and offer my support and assistance.  I am also flashing the number “2” for two reasons. It usually signals a curveball, which life is full of. It also is my offering of peace to everyone I come across.