Interviewing Mr. Tlili: Science (Biology)

SP: Where are you from?

MT: I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, but I have lived in NYC most of my life.


SP: What did you do before coming to Ramaz?

MT: I taught in the NYC public school system for about ten years, then for six years, I taught a block away from Ramaz at the Rudolf Steiner school. Before teaching, I studied environmental public health and worked for the NYC department of environmental protection. 


SP: Why did you come to Ramaz? 

MT: I seek out two things in a teaching position; a community and people who are actively interested in learning for the sake of learning and growing. It has become quite clear to me that I have found both of those qualities in Ramaz.


SP: Why do you want to become a teacher? 

MT: I consider myself to be a permanent student. My goal is to learn and improve myself constantly. I consider it an incredible privilege to be in a job that requires me to learn to do my job well.  


SP: Why did you want to teach science?

MT: I have always wanted to understand how people operate. Lots of disciplines give you insight into the human condition, but I felt like biology gives you a cornerstone to operate from that let’s all of those disciples make sense. For example – biology gives me insight into psychology, economics, history, language, and other disciplines that help us answer the question, “what does it mean to live well?”


SP: What would you do if you had a day off from teaching?

MT: I’m pretty sure my wife will have a list of things I need to do if I have a day off, mostly related to taking care of my sons Adam (age 8) and Ryan (age 3).  

If I have free time and no list, I would probably go to the gym and do a double feature at the movies. When I am most self-disciplined, I work on my own writing – screenplays and science fiction.


SP: What was your favorite subject growing up?

MT: English and history. As much as I love biology, I am a humanist at heart. So I get to touch on those subjects when I teach students the history of biology and in my writing.


SP:Is there anywhere you like to travel?

MT: I like to go visit family – either my family in Puerto Rico or my father’s side from Tunisia. I love traveling and if I was not visiting family and time/traveling with kids was not an issue, I would love to go on one of those very long train rides. Particularly the trans-Siberian express, the longest train ride in the world, or I would like to walk along the Santiago de Compostela, the 500-mile pilgrimage in Spain.


SP: What are your hobbies/interests?

MT: Physical training. I am currently training for the NYC marathon, and after I finish, I will seek out the next physical challenge.

I like acting, writing, and learning to sketch. Time is a challenge at this point in my life, so if I can steal 15-20 minutes a day to do one of those things, I consider it a success.


SP: What’s one thing you really want to do in life?

MT: I would like to run with the bulls in Spain. There is something very romantic about that event that captured my imagination in college, but I never got around to doing.  


SP: What’s your favorite part of your job?

MT: I like working with young people seeking to understand the world. They are at a developmental stage in their lives, and I can play an instrumental part in how they view learning and science for the rest of their lives.