Beyond the Classroom

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We see them every day. They assign homework and give us quizzes and tests. They scold us when we’re late and lend us extra help after school. But what do they do when they’re not in school? Do they climb into their pencil closets at night and pop out in the morning, ready made for another day of teaching and grading? The real story is even more interesting. Many of the teachers we’re so familiar with have talents, hobbies, and skills we know nothing about.

Math teacher Sean Law tap-dances. “I started when Bring in ’da Noise, Bring in ’da Funk became really popular,” Law said. “My favorite part was probably the stress relief. You get a good work out, and can let all your energy out.”

Science teacher Bruce Douglass was a race-walking champion. Race-walking isn’t your general run-of-the-mill sport. Douglass didn’t get involved with the sport until his sophomore year in college. When lining up for a two-mile race, the organizers of the event told the athletes that there were too many runners, so after getting lapped, a runner had to drop out. “I’d be out after two laps,” Douglass said. “I saw the race-walkers warming up and thought that looked fun. So I talked the coach into letting me race-walk instead. It was painful, but it was a weak year and I passed the guy in the lead. That got me hooked.” From there, Douglass improved until he was undefeated in Connecticut for 10 years and finished as high as 10th nationally.

Physics teacher Bryan McCauley dances, and not just the electric slide or the Cotton Eye Joe. “I enjoy contradance, swing and lindy hop, and ballroom dancing,” McCauley said. Contradance is a kind of partnered folk dance, whereas swing and lindy hop come from jazz music. “There is dancing anywhere you go,” McCauley said. “Something I enjoy is dancing when traveling. I’ve danced swing or ballroom in St. Louis, Washington D.C., Minneapolis, Denver, Boston, and Tampa.”

Math teacher Kathleen Flax plays piano. “My dad is an accomplished pianist,” Flax said. “We always had a piano in our household.” Flax took lessons through senior year and continues to play on her own. “I like the idea that it’s like a different language.”

Music Director Russell Hammond has been running for 20 years, ranging from one mile road races to 50 mile ultramarathons. For Hammond, running is an activity he does with his wife that takes him to all kinds of unique places. “My wife wanted to run a four mile race when I was in my thirties,” Hammond said. “I didn’t even have shoes.” Since then, however, Hammond has participated in the Boston, the Chicago, and the New York Marathons, and run in places such as the Grand Canyon. “It’s not as hard as you think,” Hammond said.

Sometimes in our school-day rush, we look at our teachers and see nothing but our educators, the people who enter our grades in PowerSchool. But as we can see, their lives extend outside of school into situations we could have never imagined. So next time you’re bored out of your mind in Chemistry, just remember that you’re learning the periodic table from the man who was once the tenth best race-walker in the nation.


Alex Houdeshell, Staff Writer

Alex Houdeshell is a staff writer for the 2014-2015 Colonel. She is the Design Editor of Ledyard’s Horizons Yearbook, plays JV soccer, runs distance in indoor and outdoor track, and is President of Operation Smile.


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