Double Duty

Michael Bernard and Jacob LaGesse

Four dollars an hour.

According to history teacher Kurtis Werner, that is how much money one teacher found he made if he broke his salary down and accounted every extra hour he worked, including grading and other school-related extracurriculars.

“Many people think teachers work an eight to three job,” Werner said, “and that’s just not true.”

For teachers such as Werner, time commitment outside of the classroom plays an even bigger role. The one thing that sets Werner away from many other teachers is his job as the head coach of the Cross Country team at Clayton High School. Even though he gets paid for coaching, this activity still takes away from other aspects of being a teacher.

CHS math teacher Kyle McCord experiences the same duality.

“[Coaching] is a large time commitment,” McCord, Junior Varsity Girls Volleyball coach, said.  

McCord has been both a teacher and coach at Clayton High School for three years.  McCord, who helped bring the team at his previous high school a fourth place win at state, also acts as the assistant Varsity Volleyball coach.

“I love the game,” McCord said. “I love spreading the joy of the game.”

Christopher Livingston has the same lifestyle as McCord, being the head coach of the varsity softball team at Clayton, as well as a history teacher.

“Dr. Gutchewsky gave me a call in April two years ago, and offered me the teaching position, which obviously I was very grateful for,” Livingston said. “My next question was, ‘In what ways can I come in and help? Do you need someone to coach?’”

Livingston taught history and coached softball at Notre Dame High School for seven years before transitioning two years ago to Clayton. Livingston recently led his team to place first in districts against Rosati-Kain.

Werner has been teaching history and coaching at Clayton since 2007. Werner also coached Boys Track and Field for seven years before deciding to focus on his primary job and his family.

“They had an opening when I got here, and I was very fortunate to get in,” Werner said.

However, Werner believes that juggling between the two jobs can have its downsides.

“[Coaching] takes a lot of my time, where I’d rather be grading something,” Werner said.

Werner spends hours at a time on his computer doing work related to the cross country team.

“It does take a lot of time from your personal life,” Werner said.

This also is a problem for Livingston who has a newborn daughter.

Livingston believes that coaching makes teaching harder. However, according to Livingston, this does not impact his students’ learning ability.

“If I ever felt that at any point that if my classes weren’t as good, interesting, fun as they could be because I was a coach, I would hang it up immediately,” Livingston said.

There can also be advantages for the students, specifically, the student-athletes.

“Being a coach makes me more relatable as a teacher, because I spend even more time with students and get a better feel for what is going on in their lives,” McCord said.  

McCord also feels that watching the athletes grow is a big part of their relationship.

Student-athletes often times have trouble finishing homework on time due to their after school practices and games. The coaches understand this dilemma because they also have to allocate time to prepare for their teaching.

“Cut yourself off [from homework] at a decent time,” Werner said. “”I know Clayton students don’t get enough sleep, but try to get at least seven hours.”  

Whether the coach was a former student-athlete or not, they still are able to understand the difficulty of completing work.

“There are only so many hours in a day,” Livingston said. “While you guys have homework, we are obviously preparing for classes, grading papers, preparing tests, things like that.”

This relationship between a teacher and a student-athlete can help the students who have trouble completing their work on time or who stay up late into the night struggling to finish.

Teaching a class sacrifices personal time with families, due to the teachers need to finish work, and make sure classes are in order.  This is the same for coaching.  Coaches are forced to deal with late practices and games. According to Werner, juggling both of these jobs is the work.

McCord believes that academics come first, before practice and games.

“If I know that a student is doing poorly in a class, it’s my responsibility to say, ‘You need to take care of that,’” McCord said.

Though both teaching and coaching is stressful, Werner sees its benefits.

“It keeps you young, it keeps you active, and I think we need active teachers in order for Clayton to be successful,” Werner said.