Setting their sights beyond school

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By: Meher Hamad <[email protected]>

AP Biology teacher Thomas Maxam has more hobbies than you can imagine one person to have. He collects vintage motorcycles, races motorboats, bikes on both dirt trails and roads and flies remote control airplanes to name a few. If that isn’t cool enough, Maxam rides a motorcycle to school almost every day. Yet, his interests don’t end there: he loves to travel and take pictures, and he also has a strong interest in stereo systems. But few students would know this much in depth about a fellow teacher. Even less would know what their teachers do after school.

Most students are at loss for words when asked questions about their teachers, and not because of awe and admiration. They simply have no idea. “I don’t know, I never really thought about it,” said junior Annie Wu, “I think one of my teachers might trap animals.”

This raises an interesting question over why students know so little about their teachers outside of school. Contrary to the popular myth, teachers do have a life outside of school. “I have plenty of hobbies outside of school. I’m pretty busy,” said Maxam.

Since most high school students hold their teachers in high esteem, they can’t imagine them as being young at any point. Art teacher Michael Lee was an avid surfer in past years and still loves the outdoors today. “I enjoy camping, biking and Rollerblading on the weekends,” said Lee. Besides his outdoor activities, Lee paints murals and is currently working on one downtown. “I basically get hired privately and get business by word of mouth,” said Lee. To add to his list of activities, Lee is also an avid Phish fan. “I once traveled to Maine to see them in concert,” said Lee.

With so many out of school activities, where is the gap from teachers to their students? Maxam makes sure to let his students know about his pastimes. His walls are covered with posters of vintage bikes and racing boats. “My students are pretty aware of my hobbies, considering they cover my walls,” said Maxam.

As an art teacher, Lee ties in his mural painting with his curriculum. “It really shows my students that there is a future in art. I’m constantly surrounded by art.”
Lee and Maxam are unique in their involving students with their hobbies. “I put teaching and my hobbies together, I try to mix them in with what I teach,” said Maxam.
Unfortunately, not all teachers do this. Sophomore Elizabeth Molleston barely knew any facts about her teachers. “I don’t really know what they do outside of school, besides hanging out with their kids,” said Molleston.

Most teachers seem to be in the dark when it comes to how their students perceive them. “I think they seem me as a laid back, easy going guy,” said Lee, “Otherwise, I don’t really know.” Maxam appeared just as lost. “Ask them yourself,” he said. Perhaps it’s the lack of communication between teachers and their students concerning their out of school lives that leaves both sides of the party at loss. “The only way I know about what teachers do is if they tell me or I see pictures on their desk,” said Molleston. Although Lee tries to incorporate his artwork with the classroom, he doesn’t talk about his hobbies as such. “If it relates to class, I’ll talk about it, but otherwise I try not to talk too much about myself,” said Lee.

Students do have an interest in teachers’ hobbies, contrary to popular teacher belief. “I don’t really think the kids want to hear about me all that much,” said Lee.

“I kind of do wonder what teachers do sometimes, I guess it wouldn’t be bad to know about it,” said Molleston.

Can the gap between teachers and students ever be bridged? With teachers such as Lee and Maxam, there is hope.