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Everyone Has His Own ‘Normal’

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Everyone Has His Own ‘Normal’

Jacob Gathje'20

Jacob Gathje'20

Cole Kalkowski

Jacob Gathje'20

Cole Kalkowski

Cole Kalkowski

Jacob Gathje'20

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Every day Jacob Gathje ‘20 goes to school like a normal person, but there is a big difference from other students. He goes to school with a teacher. His dad, Mr. John Gathje has been an English teacher and a coach since 1991.

The Gathje family has a long history of running, and Mr. Gathje keeps it going by coaching the cross country and track teams. Jacob ran cross country this fall and plans to run in track in the spring.

“I wouldn’t say having him as a coach makes me work harder, but it is like the whole Gathje legacy thing,” Jacob said. “It is like how my aunt almost qualified for the Olympics. My uncle holds the Division III steeplechase record, and my dad ran a 4:48 mile in eighth grade, I kind of have that pressure to keep that legacy going.”

In the races this year he showed just that. Running more than 300 miles, and holding the most miles in the freshman class for cross country, Jacob shows that he is working hard either way. In most of his races he was in the top ten out of Mount Michael on JV.

The family legacy does not stop there. He knows he has the ability to keep this legacy going, but he said he needs the mental fortitude to do so. For example “My uncle, who is 63, has not missed a day of running in 48 years,” Jacob said. That shows dedication.

Along with coaching, Jacob’s dad teaches English I for freshmen and English for seniors. Jacob is in his dad’s class for first period every day. “First period everyone is kinda out of it,” Jacob said. This makes his class more interesting.

 In English I, there are many fun stories and examples that keep everyone engaged, no matter the time of day. For example, woodchipping, grammar babes, elves, and SPAM are often mentioned. “It’s kind of interesting,” Jacob said. “Everything he says about SPAM and woodchipping is more funny to me, because it actually happens.”

Sometimes Jacob agrees to these stories. For example, “One time when a student said he was getting lost in the lesson, my dad said he once had four sisters, but he lost them,” Jacob said. “I said it was true, and everyone just looked at me.”

Some people would say having a teacher teach their child could have some unfair advantages. Jacob realizes this and tries to not take much of a advantage. Also, it helps that, “I think he tries to be as fair as possible,” Jacob said.

“I guess I don’t really put him to a higher standard, but I would probably be more disappointed if he was doing badly,” Mr. Gathje said. They try to keep their lives at school and home separate.  

“I feel like the only time I talk to him about school stuff is at school, either in his classroom or in his office, because that’s when other students have opportunities to ask him questions,” Jacob said. “Even though other students can’t see that, it helps me morally knowing that I am not cheating.”

Even through all of this, Jacob can keep the legacy and balance his school life. At the end of the day, Jacob grabs his stuff and goes home, but what happens at school is normal to him, but may not seem so to others.

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Everyone Has His Own ‘Normal’