September 6, 2010
Tom Urban was badgered and belittled by a teacher from hell
By Tom Urban, class of 1960
Clearly, Paul Navarra was the worst teacher I ever encountered! Throughout my four years at Division Avenue High School, I was badgered, belittled and generally picked upon by the man.
A biology teacher, he was a plump, arrogant, pompous jerk who seemed to harbor resentment towards an entire group of male students. He would single us out in the lunchroom, in class and wherever he could.
In the lunchroom, he would pick a fight and then send us to Mr. Quirk or Aiello’s office for disciplinary action. They would invariably laugh it off and say “try to be nice, etc.” In class, he would pick a fight and threaten to “take you to the boys' room for punishment” It is my understanding that he got his clock cleaned in there on a few occasions.
In senior year, I took chemistry. The teacher was new to DAHS and obviously was a friend of Navarra. Even though I received all 90+ grades through the year and on the final, he gave me a final grade in the 60s with a comment, “You have to get along with all the teachers here”. He was gone the next year.
Even after graduation, his harassment did not stop. He would badger my steady girlfriend Kathy (now my wife) with comments and threats “how can you go with that jerk, etc." After school one spring day, I was at DAHS to pick up Kathy. I was talking with my classmate Bill Stanley and Mr. Wright (our class of '60 adviser). Bill and I were wearing Bermuda shorts. Navarra came down the hall yelling at us “You can’t come here dressed like that, let’s go to the principal’s office.” Mr. Wright, trying to avoid the onslaught, said, “I have to go guys.” Bill soon took the high road and left.
I was fed up and as I walked through the lobby heading for the front door with Navarra spitting out insults and saying “Let’s go to the principal’s office and see if you are wanted here” I yelled at him, You fat pompous pig! I had to listen to your crap for four years. I don’t have to anymore." I walked out front to wait for Kathy.
At the time, the lobby was full of students going to home room for dismissal and Navarra turned purple and headed to the main office. He returned with Mr. Quirk in toe. In the ensuing diatribe, I explained that he had picked on me throughout high school and he stupidly admitted that he hated me and my friends. During the confrontation, he kept poking me in the chest with his register book. I warned him to stop hitting me or I would retaliate. Mr. Quirk kept saying “Paul, I have to go”.
Throughout this encounter the science department Chairman, Mr. Monroe Fremed, was watching from just above us at a hallway window. He observed the whole encounter. I left without throwing a punch (it was so tempting and so justifiable). When I got home, my dad asked me what had happened at DAHS? I wondered how he knew about the event and asked “why do you ask, huh?” He said he had received a call from Mr. Quirk with an apology for what had transpired. Mr. Quirk had explained that this was the last straw and Navarra would not be teaching at DAHS next year.
My understanding is that Navarra ended up at Plainview or Plainedge High School. He should never have been allowed to teach.
I would invite Bill Stanley to confirm or deny my memory of the events and ask any other ex-student to add their tales of woe about this jerk.
Our next blog entry will be various comments about horrible teachers.