Academics and sports have both played big roles in the two decades Pat Mattingly has been a teacher.
Mattingly recently finished his seventh year at Johnston High School, where he teaches government and special education. He is also the assistant coach for high school boys cross country and head coach for high school boys track. During the past 20 years, he’s coached basketball, baseball, track, volleyball and softball.
Mattingly says he always wanted to teach and likes helping others. His first love was teaching history, intrigued by human relationships and their effect on history, he says.
He went into special education because it gave him the best chance for finding a full-time job. He developed a passion for it, wanting to help students having issues in school, many of which are as a result of problems at home, he says.
In addition to his special education students, he teaches high achievers and all learning levels in between. Getting them all engaged in his government class can be a challenge, which he addresses by using different types of tasks, readings and group learning, he says.
Coaching has also been a passion of Mattingly’s. It gives him the opportunity to get to know students and their families at a much deeper level, he says.
“As a teacher, kids see you as someone who gives you work,” he says. “But as a coach, they see you as someone who wants them to be successful. Whenever you get a stronger relationship with a kid, they respond at a much higher level.”
Coaching track is the most challenging part of his job, he says.
“In one season, I will get hundreds of emails, phone calls and texts regarding coaching, versus school,” Mattingly goes on. “That is sad, I think, because I’m a teacher first, then a coach second.”
There are two things that come to mind when asked what he enjoys the most about his job.
One is seeing a student be successful in an activity — inside or outside of the classroom — and being satisfied with the result.
The second: To have previous students return and share the lessons they learned from him.
Mattingly says: “That truly is awesome.”