by Nathan Gibbs-Bowling, 2016 Washington State Teacher of the Year
As a highschool teacher I wear many unofficial hats. At work, we jokingly refer to these as other duties as assigned: club advisor, fundraiser, snack provider, letter of rec writer, cheerleader at basketball games, unofficial Dear Abby and life coach, college prep advisor, relationship counselor, fashion consultant for job interviews and formal occasions (fellas, always match your belt and shoes, always)... I could go on. These other duties vary school to school. As I have progressed in my career, my list has grown. Of all of them, my favorite extra duty is the four or five fall Friday nights where I get to be the in-stadium announcer for Lincoln High School’s football team.
I’m a creature of habit.
6:00 I arrive at Lincoln Bowl, sixty minutes prior to kick-off and check in with the timekeeper. She’s a sarcastic, hilarious office professional from a local middle school, named Lynn. We swap stories of our crazy weeks.
6:15 I start reading through the roster and practicing the visiting team’s unfamiliar names. I usually end up butchering them anyway during the game, but I give it my best.
6:20 I head down to the field and check in with the coaching staff about walk-in music and if there’s any special recognitions that need to happen pre-game or at half-time. Warm-ups are happening at this time and I spend a few minutes cracking jokes with players, chastising others, and dodging errant throws from the back-up quarterbacks.
6:30 The stadium starts to fill up. As I head back to the announcing booth, I stop to talk shop with my colleagues who always sit above the 40 yard line. I believe teaching is relational, so I take time to chat with some students and the cadre of very vocal parents that sit right below the pressbox.
6:47 My co-announcer Steven starts reading the in stadium announcements. “No smoking, no re-entry, Fanta, Laffy Taffy and popcorn at concessions...” Right afterward, I scream into the mic “Ladies and gentleman make some noise for your league champion, Lincoln Abes Football team!” and hit the entrance music as the team charges onto the field.
6:50 The players line-up for the anthem and the pep band takes the field. We always pray in the press box they’ll nail the right note at “land of the free” (they usually do).
7:00 The horn goes off, we announce captains and the result of the coin toss, and it’s time to play football.
I get to watch these boys mature into young men, one snap at a time. When I was in grad school this wasn’t part of the curriculum, but it’s part of my job and my life and I wouldn’t trade the world for it.
Nathan Gibbs-Bowling is the 2016 Washington State Teacher of the Year, National Teacher of the Year Finalist, and 2014 Milken Educator. He teaches AP Government and Human Geography at Lincoln High School in Tacoma. Follow him on Twitter @nathan_bowling and online at A Teacher's Evolving Mind.
Amy Abrams, Kent