by Chai Karve
SUNNYVALE, CA — At Paterson Middle School’s main office, Vice Principal Wes Walczak spoke to several students facing a variety of challenges the best way he knew how, by reverse-straddling a tiny chair.
“Before Mr. Walczak sat backwards, I was intimidated,” noted 7th grader Nathan Petraeus, “But once he turned the chair around, I instantly felt comforted and heard.”
“I pioneered the method during my brief tenure at Sedgewick Middle School. It puts me on their level, both literally and figuratively,” noted Walczak “It’s cool and I feel cool doing it.”
“I could tell he was cool,” confirmed 8th grader Alice Levey, “not anyone can convey the kind of chill factor Walczak did.”
In addition to the chair maneuver, Walczak made sure to undo the top button of his shirt, loosen his tie, and casually drape his once muscular forearm over the nape of the chair.
“At first he was like ‘Oh, I’m the VP and I’m disciplining you,’” recalled 6th grader Shrey Kamat, “but then he turned the chair around and was like ‘I see you. I hear you. I understand you.’ What a guy!”
Walczak has since been recruited by several neighboring middle schools, where he will negotiate complex detention meetings in mocked up versions of his office.