Dean Putnam is a French teacher at the high school. He speaks Arabic, is a devoted Steelers fan, and is an army veteran. He is fond of “bad guy” characters in his beloved dark TV shows and books. He loves the diversity of Brookline High and hopes to make classes fun for his students.
What made you want to become a French teacher?
Languages always came quickly to me and it’s something that has always appealed to me. I also had very good French teachers and professors in high school and college, so that was a great motivator. But my mom was definitely the biggest influence because she was a teacher and she loved the job.
Did you learn other languages besides French?
I was in the army and I learned Arabic for close to two years at their language school in Monterey, Calif., and then at Goodfellow Air Force base in Texas. It was pretty serious, about six hours a day.
For a couple of months, late in my army time, I learned Hatian Creole because the States went into Haiti.
What advice would you give to your high school self?
I look back on high school and college and I was just a sports guy. I played all kinds of sports, and I hung out with people that played sports. I hung out with people who, if they didn’t play a sport, knew a lot about sports. And I regret not doing more stuff outside of that community. I would tell myself, if I was 14 or 15, to try to write for the newspaper. I wish we had a Sagamore. I wish I opened myself up to many more types of people. Everybody was just like me, and that was boring.
In terms of shows and books, do you have any genres you like?
With podcasts, books, and shows, I like darker stuff. It’s not very realistic when everybody is happy at the end. I like Raised by Wolves, it’s very dark. This series on Amazon Prime is called The Boys, it’s very dark, and I like it. Evil characters, the bad guys, always have a better story. The good guys are there to do good things. They’re reacting to what the bad guys are doing. The bad guys always have a much deeper story behind why they are how they are, or why they’re doing what they’re doing.
What do you like specifically about teaching at Brookline High?
Just the diversity of the kids. The student population is such a gift for you guys. In some of these towns, including where I grew up, everyone looked like me. There were a lot of white kids where I went to college and high school. I learned more in four years in the army than I did in four years in college, because there were just so many different types of people in the service. I got out of the army more well-rounded because I understood more about other people than I did before.
What’s your favorite part about teaching?
I just love dealing with the kids from different backgrounds. The most rewarding thing about teaching is when they have fun in class and have a positive experience with me and their classmates. That’s why I love it.