Mr. Palmer has officially retired as of the end of the 2018-19 school year. We are running this profile of him from two years ago in honor of his career.
Mr. Nick Palmer’s mind seems scattered as he shuffles around the room moving papers back and forth. Movie and music posters are plastered on the walls of the beige classroom. Under my feet is orange, nearly brown, stained carpet. The room has an overall 70’s vibe. He sits at his large desk in the front of the room and sighs… “So what do you want to know?”
Mr. Palmer has been teacher in Central’s English department for 23 years. Though this seems like a long time, he’s had experience with the Cobblers for much longer. He went here for high school. Mostly, the Cobblers were in the old building downtown, but Central’s current building was opened half-way through his senior year.
It’s crazy to think that he has both been taught and taught in the same department, though things have changed in that time. (But not the carpet. The same old stained carpet was fresh when he attended 38 years ago. Yes, the carpet is 38 years old.) For one thing, the school was set up differently. There was an idea of open classrooms, so all of the departments were one big room with clusters of desks. “You could look across the room and wave to your buddy in another class.” The walls were built later on, bringing with them metaphorical walls of formality. He explains, “The atmosphere was much more casual when I went to school, everything was less strict.” More authority may not necessarily be a bad thing, though. “There’s a difference between kids now. They’re kinder. We had a real bully problem.” Though kids were meaner, Palmer did not fall into that category.
Palmer was a shy student. He never had a date or went to prom. “I was the classic third wheel. My buddies would talk to girls in the hall and I’d stand to the side kicking my shoes together, saying nothing.”
It’s hard to believe the infamous Mr. Palmer was shy to speak. He is known for his dramatic impressions of storybook characters: squealing like high-pitched princesses and growling like monsters, he takes a snooze-worthy classic and brings it a new life.
Though his social life was quiet, he enjoyed watching the Brady Bunch on Friday nights, not too different than binge watching Netflix now. Palmer spent his non- Friday nights writing for the student paper. He was a sports buzz, he followed the basketball team and wrote articles about them. “I loved sports but was never good enough, I was too tall and lanky, I had no muscles.” Writing for the paper gave him a closeness to the team without directly playing. School sports were a huge part of a student’s life. “Games were a much bigger deal back then,” he said. “Going to the game was just a part of your schedule, everyone went.”
When asked what his favorite memory from high school was, he paused and had to think a moment. Looking around the room it came to him all at once: “That’d have to be my 10th grade demonstration speech.” Ironically enough his classes were presenting their speeches the week we spoke. “It was in Mr. K’s English class. I taught my class how to blow bubbles. It was a hit. I handed out bubble gum to the class and everyone loved me.” He said this with pride, smiling like it took him back to the best day of his life. “I was so used to being the guy who sat in the corner put in time and went home. It was nice to feel like a celebrity for a few minutes, and all the girls knew my name for a day.” He thought about this moment, I could tell it was replaying all through his head. “It’s strange because though I was shy, I’ve always found it easy to speak in front of people.” He proudly added that he got an A on the speech.
Mr. Palmer took this fondness of speaking and got a degree in broadcasting and journalism. After a few years on the job, he knew he didn’t want to do it for the rest of his life. “I asked myself what would be the best job in the world, I knew that would be Mr. K’s job.” After ten years in advertising he saved enough money to go back to school for a year to become a teacher. “I just had a gut feeling this is what I should do. It’s important to follow those feelings.”
When he finished his student-teaching, a job opened at Central because a teacher was retiring: Mr. K. Mr. Palmer now works everyday on Mr. K’s old desk. “I guess some things are just meant to be. You’ll find that in life.”