Kevin McSorley, Seriously Funny


Trevor Krumrey, Contributor

When I met with Kevin McSorley to take a picture for this article, I asked him, “Do you want to take the photo in front of the white board?” He responded, “I don’t know, I might look bored.” It took me a moment to catch the play on words between board and bored, and I’m still not sure whether or not it was intentional.

A common trend among McSorley’s peers is that they all say he appears serious at first, but he is very funny once you get to know him. 

A conversation that I witnessed between McSorley, Temple, and Paiz as they were eating lunch together highlights this. McSorley explained, “I have to be cognizant of my sense of humor when I’m around students, because they don’t get it.” Temple pointed out, “Not only do students not get it, but sometimes adults don’t get it.” Everyone was laughing at this point, and McSorley added, “When I first meet people, I have to try not to be myself.”

McSorley grew up in Orange County as the youngest of four boys. “My brothers are all taller than me, but I can still frighten them,” he says, smiling at the idea of messing around with them. “[We] lived near some open space, and we did some exploring… we probably got into some trouble that we shouldn’t have gotten into, but nothing too serious.” 

Throughout grade school, McSorley “always liked math the best.” When he went to California Polytechnic State University, more commonly known as Cal Poly, he chose math as his major with the intent of going into computer programming. 

“Those were the days when you had to go into a computer lab, write code, and then upload it to the university mainframe that would compile it… then, you would be like ‘alright, I’ve got my program done’, send it off, walk over to the lab, get your printout, and be like ‘aw, it didn’t compile’… I kinda decided it wasn’t for me at the time.”

This was when McSorley began to consider teaching as a career. “As I progressed towards graduation, it was like ‘maybe teaching is right for me’… I decided that I would be a substitute teacher.” He “decided to both teach and do [his] credential at the same time, which is called an intern credential.”

His first job was in Tahoe, but he left because “Tahoe was fun, but it wasn’t quite for me.” He went to an international job fair in Washington D.C. where he got job offers from multiple international schools. “I went to Costa Rica because I heard good things about it,” McSorley said. “I taught at an international school called the Lincoln School.”

His initial contract started in 2005 and was for two years, but he renewed it for a third year. He describes his favorite activities in Costa Rica: “It was so fun on the weekends to say ‘hey everyone pile in the car and we’re going down to the beach for the weekend.’” It was “real chill, very Caribbean vibe.” 

After teaching in Costa Rica, McSorley came back to get a job teaching in California, and stayed with his parents in Placer County during the transition. “I was sending resumes to different schools, and I didn’t know where San Rafael was,” he recalls, smiling at the irony.

At the beginning of the ‘08-’09 school year, he got an offer from San Rafael High School. “They had a math teacher quit just a couple weeks before [school started], so they were desperate for a math teacher, and I needed a job.” He “interviewed and got the job on Monday, and then started on Tuesday”. McSorley describes the first semester as “kinda tough” as he was scrambling to both find a place to live and start teaching with such short notice. McSorley has been teaching at SR ever since. He currently teaches engineering, bridge, and math. 

Sabrina Paiz, a teacher in the Academy of Engineering and Technology(AET) who works with McSorley says “this was the first year that I really got to work with Mr. McSorley. I only got to see him from afar for the first three years, and I always thought he was extremely serious.” Now that she knows him better, she has realized that “he is serious about his work, but he’s actually really funny… it took a moment to blend the seriousness with the joking around.”

Andreas Ritter, a former student of McSorley, says that he is a “great engineering and design teacher that helps kids develop a lot of skills.” Ritter adds, “Last year [during] our robot project, he was very supportive in terms of giving us inspiration and taking class input on where we wanted to take the project.”

Zander Mercer, an engineering student and teacher’s aide for McSorley, says, “Mr. McSorley is humorous in that he has plenty of stories to tell… you’re surprised to learn about them because he’s not very talkative but then you talk to him and little” and find out that he has lots of stories.

Steve Temple, another AET teacher, said, “Mr. McSorley is a pretty quiet guy, so my initial impression was like ‘huh, who is this guy.’” Similar to most of the other people I interviewed, he continued, “I’ve gotten to know his sense of humor, he’s got a great sense of humor.” 

McSorley now lives in Petaluma with his family. He has three children, ages 3, 6, and 8. “The youngest one has special needs… she’s a super friendly little kid, but has developmental delays,” he said.

As I interviewed McSorley, he described, with a bright smile, an event that happened the day before, “My 6 year old, he goes to a STEM school, he got home yesterday and was like ‘dad, we went to the makerspace yesterday and made towers out of straws’ and so he’s like ‘lets build a tower’. He continued “and so I got off work after working all day doing engineering stuff, and then we built a tower.”