By: Cade Delker
Mr. Bullock was a staple at Hammond, filling the senior hallway with the smell of amazing meals and covering every locker with vegetable puns. It came as a huge shock last year hearing that he would be leaving us and migrating to the west coast. He is missed just as much if not more than the treats he taught his students to create. Many of our hungry students have been wondering, “Where is he now?”. To answer this, The Bear Press was able to secure a phone interview with him from his new home in Portland, Oregon.
The Bear Press: It’s great hearing from you again in Oregon! What was your main motivation for moving to the other side of the country?
Curtis Bullock: The main thing I was looking for is a better work-life balance. I feel like a lot of people I meet on the west coast have less of an interest of having their identities defined by their work – and I really like that. Death of a Salesman is a really important book to me. I feel like Biff asks a lot of questions that we should all ask about how much of our lives we devote to our work – and what are we devoting ourselves to – and how much is our time worth? I loved my job at Hammond- and I miss the people there a lot, but I was also missing so many things out here that don’t have to go with work. I can make a lot more money teaching in Howard county, but I can’t buy the time and landscape I have out here no matter how much money I have.
BP: What are you currently doing for work, then? What would you say your favorite thing is to do when you’re not working?
CB: When I left Maryland on July 5th, I didn’t have an apartment for a job or anything really. By July 19 I have a amazing full-time job teaching culinary again, and an apartment in a really fun part of town. So take a risk, kids! Take a risk, adults! I just happened to take one more look at the job listings, and I noticed that there was a culinary job available in a really good district. I ran to the library, and started doing the online application, and about halfway through doing the online application my phone rang. It was an assistant principal, and she said “hey… We can see that you’re doing this online application! Hurry up and finish it so we can have you in for an interview!” That happened on a Tuesday, I had the interview on Thursday, and I got the job in the apartment on Monday.
CB: My favorite things to do when I’m not at work are mostly natural things, which is great because they are pretty much free -except for the gas it takes to get there. There’s an awesome hike up to a place called Saddle Mountain where I went after work once. The state of Oregon has a little nubbin that sticks up on the upper left-hand corner, but from the top of Saddle Mountain you can see so far that it’s like standing and looking down on the map in real life. You can see the big Columbia River all the way out where it meets the ocean, you can see up and over and around the whole little nubbin piece, and then you can see way down down the coast too. Then when you turn away from the ocean, you can see all the way back out to Mount Hood which is probably about a 3 hour drive away. So many things are like that out here. You walk along for two seconds, and you see something amazing, and you just go “well that’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in my life!” and then you walk 15 feet and it happens again!
BP: That’s sounds amazing! I’m really happy that taking that risk turned out so amazingly for you and that you’re having such a nice time out there. It almost makes me laugh at my next question, which is simply, “what do you miss most about Hammond?”
CB: Every school is different, and every school culture is different. I really like the school where I am working now, the kids are great and we get to do awesome amazing fun stuff like I used to do with my kids at Hammond, but it is different. I know some people probably thought of it as a little bit corny, but the motto of “where people are important” really does matter. I never thought it was corny at all, I always thought it really set the tone for how people were supposed to act and treat each other. So even if people weren’t always doing it, we all knew that we had that as our shared vision and purpose. My new school is really nice, and I do like my new kids, but I feel like I knew my kids in Hammond better than I know my kids at my new school.
BP: That’s very touching- I know from experience you really care about your students. Maybe it will just take time to get to know them more! You never know. Now, instead of contrasting, what would you say is the biggest similarity you’ve seen between Hammond and your new school?
CB: Kids are still really excited to cook and do other CTE stuff. My new school is 2700 kids! But they still really love our CTE classes – for kids taking a ton of AP classes, I’m totally ok that they take my class as a relaxer and fun class. For kids who aren’t into the heavy academic classes, CTE classes give them a reason to come to school and have a place to be successful. It’s important to have balance.
BP: It doesn’t really get better for students than being able to cook and eat at school. Another Hammond question- if you could take anyone one person from Hammond with you, (EXCLUDING your new fiancé), who would you choose and why?
CB: I mean it is a very cheesy and obvious pic, but clearly the one and only option has to be Marcy Leonard. Great leadership is really hard to find. There are easily six or seven other teachers who I think would be incredibly happy out here though. Come on, Lidgard! Dunlap! Nunley! The trails are calling!
BP: I’m sure she would love that! We mentioned your fresh engagement to Ms. Freel earlier, and know that she will be joining you in Oregon this summer. What are your thoughts on having another Hammond staff member join you in your new environment? Do you think it will make it more difficult to adapt, or be more of a comfort to you?
CB: It will definitely be a huge benefit and comfort. Having more people with the Hammond mentality is always a good thing for sure.
BP: Is there any other message you’d like me to include for your former students/colleagues?
CB: I think I’d just say that planning ahead will help you be ready when your opportunity comes along. Just wildly “going for it” isn’t really enough – you’ll need a real solid ton of luck for things to work out in that case. The more hard work and preparation you put in ahead of time, the less luck you’ll need to make sure things work out.
I loved my job at Hammond- and I miss the people there a lot, but I was also missing so many things out here that don’t have to go with work. I can make a lot more money teaching in Howard county, but I can’t buy the time and landscape I have out here no matter how much money I have.
When I left Maryland on July 5th, I didn’t have an apartment for a job or anything really. By July 19 I have a amazing full-time job teaching culinary again, and an apartment in a really fun part of town. So take a risk, kids! Take a risk, adults!