Dave Cornblum

I'm a professional geek from 7:50 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. A button-down shirt and long pants—to hide my tattoo—are musts.

My main objective is to get through the day without catching too much shit from the kids—I believe that no matter how cool you are, you're still going to catch shit. My best defense is to be a geek at school. I act like I'm not offended by cuss words or sexual overtones (I always say, “Excuse me, we do not say that in class”), and I never take anything personally. If you do take it personally, they can destroy you because as a teacher, you're not allowed to cuss back, talk abusively or kick their ass, so you really just have to take it. I never let them see me get bummed or pissed at what they're saying because then I lose. Don't get me wrong: if some kid is being super-lame, then it's referral time, and they're gone. But they'll be back, too. Catching shit and handling it cool is good practice for me if my band ever takes off and lots of people start talking crap about us.

I had a bad experience two years ago when I was teaching summer school at [a local high school]. These were like the worst of the worst twelfth-graders. Every time I turned around to write something on the board, I got pelted with fistfuls of Skittles, and I couldn't figure out who threw them. Finally, after getting hit several times, I went for the phone to call the office, but the kids all got out of their seats and blocked the door and the phone. I had to basically just wait there for 30 minutes until the bell rang to go to the office. The cool thing was that I stayed calm and didn't freak out. In that circumstance, if I would have been cussing and freaking out, I would have gotten in trouble.

Do kids know what I do on the side? Being a singer? Hell, no! That would blow the role-model act I've got going right now. The kids think I'm hella square, but that's cool with me. I told one kid named Ronnie that I'm in a band. He's a white rapper with an Eminem-wannabe style. He's really cool, and once he finds his own style, he could be really good. But the rest? No way; it's just not worth it. So being the singer in Shave and being a substitute teacher are real different from each other. But I like both gigs. Both are rewarding in totally different ways.

—As told to Arrissia Owen

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