Nine years ago, upon hiring me to teach at Santa Barbara City College, Guy Smith told me, “Teaching will be the most rewarding thing you do.”
As I soon learned, Smith slips in wisdom and advice at a machine gun pace in between his everyday conversations, constantly coaching and guiding without ever coming across as condescending. After 34 illustrious years at SBCC, where he was the dean of educational programs and the School of Media Arts, among other titles, he’s currently the Chair of the bachelor of arts program at Antioch University.
My mentor in teaching recently answered the Proust Questionnaire.
What is you like about your job the most?
Autonomy and creativity in service to the young people of the community.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My 34-year career at SBCC.
What is your favorite memory of teaching students?
Convincing students that Shakespeare was more fun than they could imagine — and hearing their gratitude years later.
Who do you most admire?
Ron Werft, CEO of Cottage Hospital. He is the most capable and humble CEO I know. He hits all the bases: community, family, and non-profits.
What do you most value in friends?
Comfortable compatibility. Robert Frost said that a friend is someone you can be quiet with.
What is your most marked characteristic?
An ability to laugh at anything, including myself.
What is your most treasured possession?
Dear old dad’s Purple Heart he received at the Battle of the Bulge fighting with Patton.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A great party with great friends, preferably on the water somewhere exotic.
What is your greatest fear?
Living so long, in poor health, as to be a burden to others. Second greatest fear is not living so long.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Keeping a sailboat in Santa Barbara Harbor.
What is your current state of mind?
Excited and enthused, looking forward to the winter, spring, summer, and next chapter of life.
What is the quality you most like in people?
Not taking yourself, or the world, too seriously.
What is the quality you most dislike in people?
People who are cheap. And cheap for whatever reason: advantage, greed, or gamesmanship.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Which talent would you most like to have?
I would love to be able to play a musical instrument really well, probably the piano.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d be 30 pounds lighter and 30 I.Q. points smarter.
Where would you most like to live?
Southern Europe on the Mediterranean, probably Southern France. High quality of life.
Who makes you laugh the most?
Bill Maher. I find his irreverence and hyperbole to be a hilarious concoction.
What is your motto?
Life is a junior high.