Mr. Connelly, the Peppermint Man

Interview by Penny Lockhart

In high school, did you see yourself becoming a math teacher?
Yes, it was my 11th grade year, and the softball coach was a math teacher. I didn’t play softball, of course, but he was a pretty cool guy.

If you weren’t a teacher, what would you do?
I would be a pharmacist. I actually went to school for five years to be a pharmacist.

What changed your mind?
I always wanted to be a math teacher. I just went to school to be a pharmacist so I could make some money. But I always intended on teaching math afterwards.

What is/was your biggest dream?
My biggest dream was actually to open my own charter school.

Well, why didn’t you?
Never got around to it. Mostly kids. I have kids, and not enough extra time. It’s also a bit of a gamble. I started working a couple of years, and then a couple more, and next thing you know I was working ten years at the same spot, and, like, do I really want to give that up now to start all over?

What three things are most important to you?
Family first. Always family first. Then honesty. I like people who tell the truth, even if it’s bad. And health. I try to stay healthy, try to keep my family healthy.

“I was known for ordering a pizza to class. And the professors don’t care as long as you give them some.”

What were you notorious for in school?
I always had food. People could always depend on me for something to eat. In middle school, it was peppermints, I was like the peppermint man. In high school, it was still peppermints because I worked at Wendy’s, and they had a salad bar with peppermints. So I had like an endless supply of peppermints that I would take to school. So I was kind of like the candy pusher. In college, it was just food in general. I was known for ordering a pizza to class. And the professors don’t care as long as you give them some.

What would your family members describe you as?
I’m reliable. If I say I’m going to do something, I always do it. I’m honest and I’m pretty lively. Little bit of a funny guy around the family. They’re doing something and I come in and they’re like “Oh, he’s here! We’ve been waiting on you!” Also a bit of a disciplinarian.

How would you describe your family?
Well, my wife, she’s reliable. She always supports me in everything that I do. My son, he’s awesome. My daughter, she’s good, but she drains my pockets. She’s always asking me for money. And then I have a lot of brothers and sisters, seven of each. And once a year we all get together for a “Siblings Weekend” and all of us just go somewhere, rent out a couple of hotel rooms, and we just hang out. We have a good time. We’re really close.

If you could change one thing in society, what would you change?
None of the stuff like world peace and stuff like that, because there would always be some sort of conflict. In general, just for people to be more respectful, because people are very disrespectful. Especially to older people, like senior citizens. Also, like everywhere. Like in restaurants, people should be respectful. Also, people should appreciate their job, even if it’s not the job that you want to do.

What is your greatest fear?
Probably like, falling in the middle of a large body of water. Because I can’t swim. Like, not even a little bit. Maybe that’s why I love fish, because they can swim. That’s why they’re so magical. Anyways, like when I’m driving over a bridge, I’m just like “Man, if this collapses, I’m a goner.” And I’d be the one going crazy, too. Like I’m the person who someone’s trying to save and then I’d end up making them drown, too!

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Probably my kids, That’s the best thing I’ve done. Personally, when I was going for my Master’s degree, we had to make a portfolio, and I am not the writer. I don’t like to write papers and stuff like that. But on my exit interview, when they were going through my portfolio, they said that it was the best portfolio they’ve ever seen. So they kept it to show students what a portfolio should look like. So that was a big accomplishment for something I consider to be my weakness.

What does your bucket list consist of?
My main bucket list item is a 220 gallon African Cichlid fish tank. I have a 125 gallon one, but I want 220 gallons.

Ok, so, why fish?
Well, I like to eat them and I like them as pets. Most people can’t say that their favorite pet also makes a good meal. And also, I’ve been doing fish tanks for a while. I like to put them together. Like, I went to my grandmother’s house and put her fish tank together. I put my mom’s fish tank together. Everybody got a fish tank in the house! I made sure that happened whether they wanted one or not.

Anything else on your list?
Oh, and I need to go to Canada, and I may actually retire there. My wife wants to move to Canada, but like today, not in retirement. I’ve never been, so, of course, I’d have to go and visit first. But that’s pretty much it. I’m a pretty simple person.

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