This is the first in a series of profiles on Paly teachers. In this edition, we talk with biology teacher Ronnie Farrell. He emigrated from Scotland to the U.S. as a teenager, and we asked him to give advice and to reminisce on his experiences in high school in America.
Verde Magazine: What is your advice for high school students?
Ronnie Farrell: “I’d say there’s nothing for free. You’re going to get out whatever you put in. You put in hard work you’re going to get good results; you’re going to get rewards. I think that’s one of the great things about America, if you put in hard work you know, the rewards are there for you. If you don’t put in hard work, well, you’d better be really really good at something. You better have some kind of unique skill, because you’re going to have a struggle.”
VM: What advice would you give your teen self?
RF: “Who needs girls? You know? If there was one thing that was rough for me in high school it was I don’t think one girl ever looked at me. I think one who was blind actually turned away. It was pretty bad. So if I was to give myself some advice it would be, ‘You know what, Ronnie? You’re going to do alright in your 20s. Hang in there, buddy. Hang in there.’”
VM: What was your most awkward moment?
RF: “I think it was my first or second day. An eraser in Scotland is called a rubber, and I asked my teacher for a rubber in front of the class — and that was pretty awkward. The whole class kind of just gasped and I was like, ‘I made a mistake. I need a rubber,’ and that didn’t help. And eventually, I figured that out and I never asked for a rubber again, at least from a teacher.”
VM: Did you enjoy your high school experience?
RF: “I wouldn’t say I loved it or hated it. It was definitely challenging, but I enjoyed it. I went to school in east side San Jose when I first came here, and a lot of people say it was a tough high school to go to, but it was the only thing I knew. I had good friends, we had a good time. It was definitely challenging though.”
VM: What was the hardest thing for you to experience as a teenager?
RF: “Hardest thing for me as a teenager was when I came to America, and just going to school [in] a new country it was very, very difficult and I think one of the ways I got through it was with sports. I didn’t relate a lot to American culture when I came here, but I was good at soccer and in the neighborhood I lived in there was a lot of soccer going on and that helped me fit in.”