Ex Educators

November 18, 2022

Chuck Collis

For Chuck Collis, teaching for 28 years was beginning to take its toll. From long hours to the aftermath of online learning, Collis needed a break.

“I hold myself to a really high standard which caused me to put in a lot of hours,” Collis said. “50 to 60 hours a week was usually the norm and I was ready for that to go down.”

Previously the AP Environmental Science teacher at CHS, Collis now works as a biologist for Bayer, a life science and agriculture company, in a division called field solutions. “My team mainly works with testing out seed treatment,” Collis said. He and his team coat seeds like corn and soybeans in a solution that is meant to help them withstand diseases and damage from insects.

“One of the I work on is called seed safety,” Collis said. “The chemicals can be dangerous for the plants themselves, so we do various kinds of germination tests on the seeds.”

Before his decision to leave CHS, Collis found that the educational environment was becoming too exhausting. “I felt like I was wasting my time on things that I didn’t enjoy or things that shouldn’t be necessary,” Collis said. “The whole game of trying to make sure that no one is cheating. I was tired of it. There are already so many aspects of education that feels like this game for points.”

The aspect of grading was not Collis’ favorite. He felt that it encouraged cheating just to get points and didn’t help students learn.

It has always been a challenging job, but it felt like every year another responsibility was added, everything began to accumulate and it turned the job into something that it wasn’t 30 years ago. ”

— Chuck Collis

“I’ve never enjoyed grading student writing,” he said. “If I could get away from grading while still being able to hold students feet to the fire, that would have made teaching a lot more enjoyable.” Not only was the grading process beginning to get tedious, but Collis also felt that the district was asking too much of teachers. “It has always been a challenging job, but it felt like every year another responsibility was added,” he said. The accumulation of extra tasks took a toll on Collis; “Everything began to accumulate and it
turned the job into something that it wasn’t 30 years ago.”

Collis feels that teacher mental health has also been overlooked.“We’ve been told any number of times over the last few years to take care of yourself, promote self care,” Collis said. “As far as I could tell it was just people saying that. There was no action taken to actually enforce it.”

Collis has been able to find his passion after leaving education and although he does not plan on returning to teaching, there were many parts of education that he enjoyed, “I liked the creativity of teaching and the freedom that we had at CHS.”

Sean Doherty

Sean Doherty now works at the Missouri Botanical Gardens.

Lily Kleinhenz

Sean Doherty now works at the Missouri Botanical Gardens.

Sean Doherty is a familiar name for many Clayton students and families. Until recently, we knew him as the Superintendent.

Now, he’s taken on a new role as the Vice President of Education at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

“I started my teaching career at the Botanical Garden, and to be able to come back in this role is kind of a dream,” Doherty said. While his new position still involves education in a major way, he noted that the move was definitely a change.

“Here, we’re able to have a little more freedom in terms of what we’re able to offer our audience and our learners,” he said. However, the added freedom doesn’t come without its drawbacks.

“Something I miss is the daily interactions with students,” he said. Doherty went on to say that he was happy at Clayton, but that he needed to take a chance on something new. He stated that while education will likely always be some part of what he does, the role of
Superintendent is very intense.

Although he thoroughly enjoyed his time as Superintendent, he said that he doesn’t see himself going back to the same environment he was in. Instead, he intends to take his previous experiences and put them to work in his new job. “I am making sure I get more experiences with individual students,” he said.

There has to be this national campaign about how teachers are integral to the success of our world. The value of a teacher needs to not only be in the way we treat teachers, but also how we pay teachers.”

— Sean Doherty

His goal is to take his current role and modify it to be what he wants it to be. The new challenges he faces are what he loves about the job. Yet, he postulates that the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic are the very thing that has driven teachers off, both in and
out of the Clayton district.

“There has to be this national campaign about how teachers are integral to the success of our world. The value of a teacher needs to not only be in the way we treat teachers, but also how we pay teachers,” Doherty said.

As things get more and more difficult for teachers, Doherty fears that potential educators
will be put off the career. That spells disaster because as people stop going into education, the quality of schools will drop.

“I’m hoping there’s going to be a point where people are going to see [that] educators are
so integral to the success of our country and success of our world,” he said.

Rebecca Hare

Photo+of+Rebecca+Hare.

School District of Clayton

Photo of Rebecca Hare.

When Rebecca Hare was offered the position at Adobe as the lead for the community of creative educators, she knew it was an opportunity she couldn’t turn down. What started as a project reserved for breaks and weekends had blossomed into something much bigger.

Hare describes her role as “a global community of tens of thousands of members around the world.” When Hare started teaching in Clayton, it meant leaving her career in design.

“I wanted to have a more important impact in the world, and teaching is one of the biggest impacts you can have,” she said. The reason Hare started at Clayton would end up being the same reason she left: a desire to have an impact on the world.

“When this opportunity revealed itself, this was an even bigger way to make that impact […] instead of 150 students a year, it’s tens of thousands that I support,” she said.

Although her job no longer involves teaching in the traditional sense, Hare still has a lot of love for the profession. “My favorite parts are the students getting to know people and just seeing them develop and do really killer stuff,” she said. “I really miss my students and colleagues and the actual act of teaching. Now, I teach teachers.”

But Hare acknowledged that despite being immensely rewarding, teaching is also a grueling profession. “The worst part was the schedule. You have three minutes and you have to go to the bathroom or you really need a coffee and you can’t do that. And from August to May, you’re on this hamster wheel running. Even if you take a day off, you have to work as much as you would have to prepare to take the day off,” she said. Her words are an echo of what teachers everywhere deal with every day, and now more than ever.

The worst part was the schedule. You have three minutes and you have to go to the bathroom or you really need a coffee and you can’t do that. And from August to May, you’re on this hamster wheel running. Even if you take a day off, you have to work as much as you would have to prepare to take the day off.”

— Rebecca hare

Teacher retention is suffering everywhere, but the solution is simple– at least in theory. “Teacher’s compensation is important. I think everywhere, retaining really great talent means you compensate that
talent,” Hare said.

In the end, teaching is something that remains close to Hare’s heart, and the opportunity to magnify that impact, even if it meant leaving Clayton, was too good to ignore.

Ty Cochran

Ty Cochran left the School District fo Clayton at the end of last school year.

Ty Cochran

Ty Cochran left the School District fo Clayton at the end of last school year.

After 13 years as an educator, Ty Cochran needed a change. Cochran, a former business teacher at CHS, is now working for Missouri Enterprise as a sales associate.

“We are a manufacturing consultant company,” Cochran said. “I go in and build relationships with these companies, find out what needs they have, and then connect them to our project managers to see if they can help.”

Not only did Cochran need a change, but he also felt that the standard at Clayton was falling. Since the beginning of the pandemic, many teachers and classes have become easier for students. Although many people were enjoying the benefits of this, Cochran recognized
the problems. “I felt like we were really lowering the bar for students, which seemed nice on the surface, but in the long run it was really hurting them,” he said.

For Cochran, the corporate world gives him a chance to set a higher standard for himself.
“I don’t have to do a lot of busy work now, with teaching there’s a lot of that,” he said. “I just feel like I’m treated more like an adult in the corporate world.”

Not only was Cochran frustrated by lowered standards, but also by how teachers were compensated. “It didn’t matter how good or crappy of a teacher I was, I was still going to get paid the same amount as [any other] teacher,” he said.

Cochran’s concerns for Clayton didn’t end at teacher pay. He also felt that his beliefs and values were not fully accepted by the district. “Clayton is a great place, there are so many great educators and students, I built some great relationships there,” Cochran said, “But my
values and beliefs didn’t really align with Clayton’s. I just didn’t feel like it was a place that I should stay at.”

 Clayton is a great place, there are so many great educators and students, I built some great relationships there, but my values and beliefs didn’t really align with Clayton’s. I just didn’t feel like it was a place that I should stay at.”

— Ty Cochran

Not only did he feel that his values were not accepted, but also the values of some of his students. “I was in charge of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and we talked about if they felt comfortable sharing their beliefs in the classroom,”

Cochran said. “All of them said no.”

The feeling of not having a space to share his beliefs was ultimately one of the factors that lead him to leave education. Although he does not see a life of coming back to teaching, there are some aspects of work that he cannot get outside of the classroom.

“I miss the students the most,” Cochran said. “When I was in the classroom teaching, building relationships with my students, that’s what I loved.”

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About the Contributors
Photo of Ruby Nadin
Ruby Nadin, Editor-in-Chief

Ruby is a senior at CHS and is in her fourth year with Globe. Ruby is on the field hockey team and plays center-mid.

Photo of Lavanya Mani
Lavanya Mani, Reporter

Lavanya Mani is a sophomore at CHS, and this is her first year as a Globe member. She participates in Clayton Speech and Debate as well as being involved in the theater program....

Photo of Lily Kleinhenz
Lily Kleinhenz, Chief Digital Editor

Lily Kleinhenz is a Senior at Clayton High School Missouri. She is a Chief Digital Editor and a part of Photo Journalism. Lily loves writing and reading, taking photos, shopping,...

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