October Educator Spotlight
Luke Adams, DHMS PE and Health teacher
Luke Adams and I seem to cross paths every couple of years. It started a while back (2006, I think) we rented in the same pair of duplexes down in Douglas, that’s where we met. Our duplexes were on St Anns’s Ave, right above the Treadwell ice rink. I think Luke lived there simply because he could see and walk to the rink in about two minutes. If you don’t know Luke, you can’t be that involved in hockey. Several years later we were both teaching at JDHS (2009, maybe). Luke was at JDHS for only one year. Throughout that year there was occasional confusion as to which Mr. Adams someone might be referring to or needing. One day my wife dropped off my lunch with the student assistant at the JDHS front desk. My wife told the girl, “this is for Mr. Adams.” to which the girl replied, “Which one, the hot one or the one that wears a tie?” My wife was not going to let a high school girl say her husband wasn’t hot, and responded “It’s for Nathan Adams, the special education teacher.” I love this story, which, I’ve kept to myself. I’m not the hot Mr. Adams, I’m the one that wears a tie.
Luke Adams: teen heart throb
Several years after that we were again in the same building, this time at DHMS. My special education closet was in a far corner of the building, down near the gym where Luke teaches PE and Health. I worked there for two years and that is where I learned the most about Luke. It was then (2012-14) that I learned how deeply involved Luke was in coaching. JDHS hockey coach, JDHS women’s soccer coach, middle school coach of many hats, and athletic director; Luke has involved himself in youth athletics. I don’t know how many years Luke has been coaching, I’m guessing it’s been a lot. Luke goes above and beyond with his players, building character off the ice. Luke has his hockey team participating in anti-bullying and sexual and domestic violence programs. It’s these character strengths of Luke that I really want to call attention to. I found those strengths exemplified in his classroom instruction.
Luke Adams: coach
While I was at DHMS, I was teaching special education in the BEST (Behavior Education Support Team) program, a magnet special education program for students experiencing substantial behavioral and emotional learning needs. My students also experienced significant issues with coordination, social success/social norms, male body image, and self esteem; they were simultaneously victims and aggressors. Compound that with the fact that it’s middle school, the most challenging time in child development, next add gym class to this cauldron, and it becomes a recipe for disaster. Yet, it wasn’t a disaster, it was a success. What I watched Luke do was welcome every student into his class and program, from the 8th grade jock that, on the outside, was on top of the world, to the overweight girl that was withdrawn. All of them participated in PE and none of them had a single disparaging comment about Coach Adams. They love him. Luke taught the hardest subjects in middle school: puberty, mental health, sportsmanship, friendships, safety, belonging, relationships, and how and who to ask for help when we need it. Even mentioning those subjects makes us uneasy, and we’re the adults. It takes a safe and positive environment to accomplish what Luke made look natural. Luke and I partnered in teaching my students social interaction, social skills, and negotiation in games and sports. I’d be lying if I said it went without a hitch, but we were pushing students to the maximum social learning they could participate in. Luke taught about life. He taught how to make healthy lifestyle choices, how to be civil, and, making a huge leap: Luke did not teach middle schoolers how to tolerate one another, but how to accept and maybe even embrace each other. It was Luke’s instruction with the rest of the student body, classes, and grades that allowed our shared students to practice their social skills in such a safe environment. A safe environment, in middle school gym class, that still includes dodge ball.
Luke Adams: teacher hero