Enough to Be Dangerous – When a Guidance Counselor Truly Guides

Harry Weberman, Mort’s Oak Park High School Guidance Counselor, 1970-1971.

Most of us know the adage, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” And chances are, a great many of us have experienced this.

Sometimes the teacher is an actual teacher – the English teacher who introduced you to an amazing author or the science teacher who shared your passion for chemistry.

Maybe it’s a coach who encouraged you to dig deep and give it your all. It could be a friend, a family member, a child, a pet. Perhaps a stranger on the street. The teacher can take on many forms.

For Mort Meisner, it was his guidance counselor, Mr. Weberman.

The Misguidance Counselor

By the time Mort landed in high school, he wasn’t entirely sure what he wanted to do once he graduated.

He’d had more than a handful of experiences by then that had sparked a passion for broadcasting. But he’d had an even bigger handful of experiences that left him feeling deflated and stupid –  one of which was delivered by a man who was supposed to be his guidance counselor.

In his memoir, Enough to Be Dangerous, he recalls the day he was called down to the alleged counselor’s office:

 Youre a nice boy, but I just dont see you amounting to much,” [the counselor] said, glancing down at a pile of papers. I could only assume that at the top of that pile was a sheet that displayed my grades.

He lifted up that sheet to partially conceal his face. I recommend you go into the military or into a good trade like plumbing, or you could become an electrician,” he said, looking at me from over the edge of the paper. This suggestion was beyond laughable—if it werent so sad—because of my inability to work with my hands.   Hell, I had struggled to pass shop class and art.

I didnt know what to say. Yeah, I knew my grades werent stellar. But did that really mean I had no future? All I could do was nod, then get up and leave. Utterly humiliated.

Of course, Mort was no stranger to being told he wasn’t worth much. His father regularly dealt him verbal blows such as, “If you had two brains you wouldn’t be a halfwit,” or, “I do more accidentally than you do on purpose.” And his mother had told him countless times when he was younger that he was not her little boy and she wished she’d never had him.

Yet, in a surprising turn of events, his parents did not take to the counselor’s words kindly. In fact, they had quite the opposite reaction. In a rare demonstration of protective parenting, they charged into the school and demanded that Mort be given a new guidance counselor.

And when Mort’s 350 lb. father made demands, people didn’t take them lightly. Not if they knew what was good for them.

Enter Mr. Weberman

Mort’s parents had finally made a significantly positive impact on his life because the next day, he was assigned a new counselor.

His name was Harry Weberman, and he would be one of the few highlights of my high school tenure. He acknowledged that I didnt have the best grades. But he nevertheless encouraged me to apply to Wayne State or the University of Detroit, then pursue whatever interested me.

That interaction with Mr. Weberman made me realize that I really had believed I was stupid. But I also realized that my grades didnt truly reflect my intelligence. Truth was, the only subjects that really interested me were English and speech. I simply wasnt interested in other topics, and therefore didnt try very hard. But language and speaking made me tick.

This fact, along with Mr. Webermans words, gave me hope.

Mr. Weberman was truly an amazing man. He challenged me to follow my dream of becoming a journalist—which I did.

Whatever it was that enabled Mort to hear Mr. Weberman’s words with clarity and, even more importantly, without the echoing reverberation of the rage-filled sleights and slurs from his parents over the years, no one knows.

Least of all Mort.

He just knows that to this day, he is eternally grateful for that day in Mr. Weberman’s office and how it would change every day that followed.

For years after that, every time he saw Mr. Weberman, Mort reminded him what he meant to him. The year before he died was the last time he’d see him. He thanked him one final time and his last words to him were, “Mr. Weberman, you are everything that is right with education.”

The teacher came. And the student was indeed ready.

Read More About Mort’s Fascinating Life

For anyone who knows Mort as the confident and successful person that he’s become, it’s tough to imagine he had such a rough start.

But his fight, his spirit, and his resilience are undeniable – in every aspect of his life from his abusive childhood, to his days in the rock and roll scene, right up to his years in TV news broadcasting and now as an agent.

Read about them in Enough to Be Dangerous – due out on October 1st from Two Sisters Writing and Publishing – by pre-ordering your autographed copy today.

And in the mean time, subscribe to our blog to stay up to date on all the buzz around the book, the launch party, and other exciting events.