Students pleas for better grades are not just things of the present.
Retired New Paltz psychology professor Mark Sherman wrote the song “Please, Professor” with Alan Groth and Dean Scher in 1973, recorded it in 1976 and recently created a music video with the help of two students. “Please, Professor” narrates a student asking his professor (played by Sherman) for a better grade in the course and the professor refusing the request.
“It’s sort of making fun of students coming to me complaining about a grade,” Sherman said. “I just want people to see a situation that was hard for me and take a humorous stance on it. It’s a serious thing, but it’s very humorous.”
The video was directed by Allyson Ferrara, who plans to attend SUNY New Paltz in the fall. Sam Borenz, a fourth-year philosophy major, played the part of the student in the video. Sherman requested to work with Ferrara after seeing a music video she previously directed, and the duo worked on a music video for another one of Sherman’s songs before “Please, Professor.” Ferrara asked Borenz to star in the “Please, Professor” video.
The video was shot in the beginning of February with some scenes shot at New Paltz and Dutchess Community College.
Both Ferrara and Borenz saw this as an opportunity to do something they love. Ferrara, having little experience working with other people, said she enjoyed being part of a collaborative effort.
“This was a way for me to keep active,” Ferrara said. “I’d always done projects that were my own and it was a lot of fun working with someone else. Collaboration was a big part of this music video and that’s what I learned. It wasn’t just my input or my concept.”
Borenz said he enjoys acting and sympathizes with the student he was playing.
“I really like the song and I think acting’s a lot of fun,” Borenz said. “I think the song is entertaining and easy to relate to because we’re always trying to get better grades.”
Sherman’s music career blossomed over time. He recorded humorous songs with Groth and Scher on cassette tapes at home, “Please, Professor” being one of them.
Sherman played the song for his classes, and it was broadcast on the New Paltz radio station and WPDH in Poughkeepsie in the early ‘80s.
“I liked the way the song had come out on the tape, and there were no real mistakes, which when you do something live, that’s pretty cool,” Sherman said. “I just had reason to believe it was a song students and professors would really
Ferrara said she understands how the video can be relevant to students,
especially with lyrics like: “I wanna go to a graduate school and get a Ph.D. / But I just won’t get to do that unless you give me that B.”
“Anyone who’s experienced college knows that mentality of ‘I can get away with it,’ but there’s a reality of if you expect to do well, you have to do well,” Ferrara said.
The “Please, Professor” music video can be found on YouTube.