Levine spreads cheer throughout school



Substitute teacher Robert Levine has worked at the high school since 2005 after previously working in real estate. Levine said his advice to students would be to make friends with both kids and adults.

Everybody has seen him. He’s the cheery, joyful, substitute teacher that’s always waving hello to students, saying, “Good morning,” or asking, “How are you?” as they pass by him in the halls.
Substitute teacher Robert Levine has been working at the high school since 2005, after retiring from the real estate business. Since then, Levine has been a vital part of the high school community, developing memorable relationships with many students and teachers and always keeping a bright outlook on life.
Levine said the reason he constantly has a positive attitude at school is mainly due to the fact that he simply likes being at the high school.
“Everybody’s responsive and even people who have difficulty in participating, or being outgoing, they still can,” Levine said. “So you can say hello to everybody, and everybody’s the same. Everybody’s equal.”
Levine said that something as simple as saying “hello” in the morning to students in the halls makes him stand out among other teachers.
“I form relationships. I make kids say hello. I say hello to everybody and then eventually they say hello back,” Levine said.
According to Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator Gary Shiffman, over the years, students create strong relationships with their teachers that they remember for a long time. But they rarely form these kinds of relationships with substitute teachers.
“It’s not usual to have a relationship with someone who’s officially a substitute teacher. So when you do, I think it’s extremely memorable. It’s gratuitous kindness, and unexpected,” Shiffman said.
Shiffman said that one thing that makes Levine different from other teachers is that he’s not teaching for the money, but rather for the joy of teaching and to be able to be with young people.
“He’s done with the career that made up the bulk of his working life,” Shiffman said. “He’s here because he wants to be and he looks for things to do. When he’s not subbing a class, he’ll help out. He’ll come in and say, ‘What do you need?’ And who says that?”
Judy Saler, family and consumer science teacher and self-proclaimed friend of Levine, said that he always recognizes the good in people which makes him special.
“That’s why we love him. He assumes the good. So even if we’ve been bad, we can start new with Levine. He gives us a second chance; many people don’t,” Saler said.
Previous to his teaching, Levine spent the majority of his career working in real estate. He then worked as an English teacher for four years in the 1970s. Saler said when she first met him, she had thought he was too bright to only be a substitute teacher.
“I thought he was extremely intelligent and couldn’t understand why he was substitute teaching as opposed to being a real teacher,” Saler said. “But yet after speaking with him for a long time, I found out about his really interesting and successful career in real estate and in business, and he had lived in a variety of places, done a lot of different things, been very successful and that this was for his retirement.”
Levine is a very unique teacher.
“He’s open. He’s emotionally available, he’s friendly, he does not have preconceived notions that might get in the way of his being receptive,” Saler said. “He would rather be happy than right, and he would rather see the kids be happy.”
Levine said that every year subbing for the high school is the same, but it will never get old for him.
“What I like is that every year you have to be on your game,” Levine said. “You have to be able to just continue to have respect for the kids and they have to have respect for you, and that’s the goal every day.”