Country Day’s multi-role educators: how and why do they do it?


Maya Couey and Joshua Hangartner, Staff Writers

“My job is to mentor and teach/coach in both venues so I don’t see it as any different, I just change my clothes,” states La Jolla Country Day baseball coach and math educator John Edman as he sits in front of a pile of newly submitted math tests. At LJCDS, there is a strong emphasis on both sports and education, being that they are vital aspects of the LJCDS community values. The embodiment of this philosophy can be most observed through our school educators that also serve as high school athletics coaches. These coaches/educators serve our community in numerous ways. They lead and have led interesting lives unknown to most students and are the embodiment of interdisciplinary skills celebrated by the school. They have unique experiences having to constantly shift from the coaching mindset to the teaching, whether one even considers there to be a shift at all, and are great leaders and presences on campus, wherever one may find them. Through interviews with a few of these vital members of LJCDS, we can understand the interesting lives of our educators that mentor both inside and outside the classroom, and understand how they successfully manage each role.

Many LJCDS students have been both players and students under an educator at one point in their school career, and it is expected that a student will see an educator of both fields around campus on a daily basis. An interesting inquiry, though, that many students have considered, is the transition between school and sport. For students themselves, this transition is seen as abrupt, being that athletics are often viewed by students as an opportunity to escape the stresses of school. However, for teachers, there is a completely different mindset, one that could even inspire students to take a different approach to the dreaded classroom and the celebrated “escape” that is sports competition. If educators opt to both coach and teach, having passions for both areas, perhaps the two are not so different. Perhaps it is even possible for students to learn interdisciplinary values that can insight interest, knowledge, and excitement in all aspects of LJCDS student life.

A very prominent coach/teacher presence on campus is John Edman, educator of Linear Algebra, Algebra II with Trigonometry and Math and Finance, as well as head baseball coach. Edman seems to take a different view on the transition from school to sports than most students do. “I see it really similar,” he says, describing the coaching world as “outdoor teaching.” 

It’s very obvious that Edman finds a lot of joy in the sport he coaches and the subjects he teaches. This passion stems from Edman’s long background in baseball, having played all through high school and at Williams College in Massachusetts. “My dream was to play professionally, and I would’ve loved that,” he mentions. “But it turns out,  I love coaching, I love teaching, so the path that I took is something that’s been very satisfying for me.” 

Edman’s experience is also a result of the time he spent as a teacher and coach at his former high school. As of today, the math and baseball educator has been at Country Day for 22 years, still teaching in both vastly different fields. “It’s busy, for sure. You have to have some commitment and know that you’re gonna have very busy days and work to do at night and on the weekends, but if it’s something you love, it’s worth the time commitment. I definitely spend a lot of time at work, but I think if you love it, then you feel like your time is well spent, and if you feel like you’re making a difference somehow.” Edman makes it clear that his love for what he does is what motivates him to take on a large workload and long schedule. His doing this is an excellent example of the ways in which anyone can pursue their own passions, in all areas of interest. “I think every teacher has their passions, things that they really want to do and love to do, and I love to teach and I love to coach,” he says. “It absolutely enhances my experience here.”

Tyler Hales, head football coach and middle school history educator at Country Day, also always shows his enthusiasm for what he does in the classroom and on the field. Hales began working at our school in 2006, also as both an educator and coach. “This was my goal when I was in college,” he says. Hales, just like Edman, has a lot of personal background in the sport he coaches, which definitely creates the passion that he feels for his job now; he played football through high school and college, as well as baseball for his whole life. Similar to Edman, though, Hales shows the same kind of indistinction between his coaching job and his teaching job. “Honestly, it’s not much different and I try to simply be myself within both roles. My interactions and means of teaching are different, but I try to bring energy and enthusiasm into each role.” 

This is evident in his constant peppy and excited demeanor, as described by students who have been in either his history class or on the football team, or both. However, as student-athletes often complain in regard to their own workloads, Hales notes that the time commitment is quite difficult to manage. “It’s really hard, especially with being a father and husband and balancing my family commitments as well,” he says, continuing by mentioning that he spends a lot of his free time working, and if not working, getting his children to bed and doing all of the other duties that come with parenthood.

This is easily comparable to students’ lifestyles as well, without the parental aspect of it. But, as Hales clearly demonstrates, he loves what he does. When asked if coaching enhances his experience as an LJCDS educator, he responded, “Absolutely. It helps me fully appreciate our community and I love seeing our students both in the classroom and on the field.” Hales’ classroom in the middle school could not describe who he is any better than it already does- several posters encouraging students to learn line each wall, as well as a tally of football game wins. By walking into his classroom, no person could doubt this educator’s loving devotion to both teaching and coaching.

Our LJCDS multi-role educators are just one aspect of our incredible community. However, what they represent is crucial for students to understand. They are a symbol of interdisciplinary skills and interests, ones they pursue through the medium of mentoring. These are educators who understand who they are and what they value, and who view the opportunity to help others as an important one. It is through their inspiration that students can understand what they value in life, and seek mediums in which to express all of their passions.

Photo credit: LJCDS via Facebook