Every school morning, I get up, throw on some sweatpants, and head downstairs to find my parents sitting at the kitchen counter. As my dad belts a Beatles song in the background, I grab a Clif bar and tie my shoes. Rather than telling my parents “see you at dinner,” my usual morning routine ends with my dad saying, “see you third hour!”
A normal kid’s high school experience is usually a place to gain independence and a time away from your immediate family members. But for me, my dad doubles as my parent and teacher, sometimes both at the same time.
I’ve been acknowledged as “Foley’s kid” since the men’s choir visited Corinth Elementary to perform the astounding “Spongebob Squarepants.” He’s very famous throughout the community at school because of his love for students during Freshman Orientation or bawling his eyes out at the spring concert when the seniors leave. I still have remnants of snot on my choir shirt from last year, dad.
It’s cool watching my dad affect East in a positive and loving manner while doing the same towards me at home.
My dad’s appreciation for the East community is expressed in every second of his job, even if it seems like he wants to kill everyone in the bass section. He strives to make sure people don’t see him as an ordinary teacher at East, but rather as a older friend. Buying yearbooks for kids who can’t afford it or simply saying hi to everyone he passes in the hall are two simple things that my dad does to show his love for his work.
People often ask if it’s annoying that everyone associates the name Foley with the man that leads the school song instead of a sophmore girl who’s in your 6th hour. Classmates always tell me that “Your dad is the best”. And yeah he’s a pretty cool guy, but it gets annoying when my legacy falls behind the man himself, Ken Foley. The most hair pulling part is when people meet me for the first time and the conversation starts out as, “Oh you’re Mr. Foley’s daughter, right?”
But sometimes, it’s hard to be collective when walking into the choir room and hearing my dad’s rendition of “Despacito: Taco Bell Style” or putting my third grade photo on every kahoot (not my best years by the way). I tried to play it cool by avoiding the parent side of my dad freshman year, but calling your own parent “Mr. Foley” didn’t quite roll off the tongue. Sophomore year came around and my dad at school started to become part of the ordinary schedule .
Having him at school comes with judgements. People treat me in all different ways from being scared to say something wrong or just not talk to me to avoid getting on my dad’s “bad” side. And at school especially, people assume advantages that I get from him. The paparazzi was good in the elementary years, but now since we live at the same school, I’m getting pretty tired of the flashing lights.
Since my dad’s fan base is obnoxiously big, choir booster parents and students struggling on their high C in voice lessons crowd my house throughout the week. There’s nothing like walking downstairs in my fish pajama pants while brushing my teeth to find the whole Chamber Choir “team bonding” in my living room. Thanks for the notice, dad.
A lot of times I envision him not being my teacher. That would definitely decrease the shared stories about me pooping in the pool, but if he wasn’t such an idol at East, things like link crew and choir would never feel as comfortable as they are and there would be no one to make fun of for the iconic all-beige outfits.
After all the day dreaming, I couldn’t see myself at school without my dad. Though sometimes I wish he wasn’t there like when he announces he “loves his daughter Jilli” to the whole cafeteria on the microphone, I could never handle seeing someone else conducting the school song or taking my dad’s place.
Even with all the embarrassing attempts of the dab or dancing to “Got me in my Feelings,” having the opportunity to have him at school is worth it to see how much he has impacted my life and a lot of other students lives. I now try my best to say hi to everyone I pass on the ramps or at least a smile. Even if I try to sneak pass him in the halls, he’s always on the second floor waiting to say “Hi lovie!” as I walk in for third hour.