Good Talk: Mr. Pirring

Meet the social studies teacher and basketball coach who would jump at the chance to go cage diving with great white sharks.

Waverly Younts, Senior Staff Writer

How long have you been teaching?

I believe this is my twentieth year teaching, and I have been at NASH for eighteen of those.

Which course of yours do you prefer to teach?

Years ago, I did not think anything could be better than teaching Modern American History. However, the Philosophy course allows my students to talk a lot more because it is such an engaging class. Each day, my students and I talk about life in general and pose questions that allow different responses from student to student. As a result, it allows me to gain wisdom from young people. I am very thankful for that. 

Who is your all-time favorite philosopher?

Aristotle. However, every philosopher has flaws–big ones. Certainly, Aristotle’s view on women is a massive flaw of his. I would recommend reading about his belief on what it meant to live a good life. In terms of living well, Aristotle had a great grasp on that. Including that lesson at the end of my philosophy course is something that I think is super important. I think I base some of what I believe it means to live a good life on what Aristotle said. 

If you could be born into a different decade in history, which one would you like to live in and why?

I’m going to say the 1960s because I would’ve been able to see a tremendous amount of cultural change in the United States. Furthermore, I would’ve been able to see the 1970s when the Pittsburgh sports teams were actually good. 

What job would you have liked to have had if you weren’t a teacher?

The only other career choice that I had considered besides teaching was to be a lawyer. I considered going to law school after I graduated college. I would have loved to be a trial attorney arguing different cases.

What other hobbies do you have besides picking on your students during class?

Picking on my students is definitely one of my favorite things to do. Besides that, I love anything outdoors, disc golf, watching philosophical movies and TV shows, skiing, scuba diving, going to the theater, traveling, and coaching my kids. My kids both play basketball right now, and putting them through workouts is definitely a massive hobby of mine. I enjoy so many different things. I am never really bored. 

What inspired you to live in Australia? What’s your favorite memory from your time there?

I have always wanted to study abroad. During my undergraduate years, I did not do it, which is a small regret of mine. But when I graduated college, two of my really good friends were going to study in Australia for their last semester. I remember them saying, “Too bad you can’t come with,” and I remember thinking, “Why can’t I?” The only person that was holding me back was myself. I had a job offer, which was wonderful, but I just felt that, if I didn’t explore and live in another country at that moment, I may never do it in my life. I love traveling and visiting other countries, but I would encourage a lot of young people to immerse themselves in another culture and live there.

Which encounter with a celebrity is your favorite?

Definitely Michael Jordan. He was the person that I wanted to meet more than anyone else at that point in my life. I had and still have so much respect and admiration for him, and I idolized him as a kid. When we met, he told me to pull up a chair to the table he was at, and it was just so incredible to speak with him. There were a lot of other celebrities there, including Charles Barkley, whom I also loved. I just remember it being so surreal — it brought me back to my childhood.

Where is your family’s favorite vacation destination?

My family and I have been spending most of our vacation time in Florida. We normally go to the beach, Disney World, or Universal Studios. My kids just love amusement parks and going to the beach so Florida is definitely our number one spot. My wife and I have not taken them out of the country yet, but we want to take them to some amazing places that the world has to offer. 

What is your biggest pet peeve?

My biggest pet peeve in life and teaching is not accepting responsibility. Even in raising my children, it is very important for me to teach them to take responsibility for their own actions. 

What is something on your bucket list?

I have quite a few. I have been to Africa, but I did not have the chance to go on an African Safari. I also would love to go cage diving with great white sharks. Lastly, I want to go to Antarctica because that is the one continent that I have not traveled to.

If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be?

I think I would have dinner with Martin Luther King, Jr. To sit down and talk to him about his perspective on humanity would be truly life-changing.