Rick Mayhew: 'I am more like a counselor for our students than just a PE teacher'
Physical Education Teacher (Grades 7 and 8)
Seaside Middle School
For many high school graduates, graduation day is a defining moment as 17 and 18 year olds can see their futures ahead of them. But for others graduation day can be an equally anxious and uncertain time.
For Seaside Middle School Physical Education Teacher Rick Mayhew, when he left high school he did not have his path carved out for him. As a young adult heading to Humboldt State he knew he needed to get a college degree, but was equally excited to play basketball.
Once he assimilated into the college culture, he quickly embraced his passion for basketball and found himself helping out a youth basketball team at a local church. Little did he know that he would fall in love with the young student athletes he coached and it was at that moment he found his calling to work with kids.
Rick also didn’t realize that he would be able to transition his love of watching and playing sports into a full-time career of mentoring and building students’ skills and self-confidence. It was the perfect fit and that is how Rick became a middle school physical education teacher.
Rick began his career right out of college at neighboring Carmel Middle School. From the get go, he knew that this is what he wanted to do - working with students, making them smile, engaging them in laughter, and teaching them skills to lead a healthy lifestyle.
He stayed in Carmel for nine years before transitioning to Seaside Middle School. Little did he know the tale of two school districts with Carmel and Monterey Peninsula. He quickly saw the inequities of the education system. By contrast, his students at Carmel had both parents in the home, nannies, and tutors on speed dial whereas at Seaside he learned there were no gyms to practice in nor groomed fields to hold games.
Moving to Seaside Middle was a pinnacle moment for Rick as he knew he was where he was supposed to be - serving the students that needed the most from him. While he loved his students in Carmel and they appreciated him, that was nothing like the feeling of being in a district where students needed him not only for the knowledge, skill building or love of the game, but more for the caring adult relationship he provides to them.
While there may be a perception that teaching core subjects, such as mathematics, language or science, may be a more noble cause, Rick breaks this misperception because of the relationships he builds with every student on campus along with the knowledge and skills to establish and maintain a healthy and long life through physical fitness education.
Rick understands that being a PE teacher is so much more than what he can teach students. While he enjoys teaching health and fitness curriculum, he wants every kid to know they can ask him anything without judgment.
“With me students get to experience a completely different atmosphere. In PE we create a space to have fun, be yourself, not be afraid of what we are doing. I am more like a counselor for our students than just a PE teacher,” he states.
According to Rick, his greatest contributions to education are the relationships he cultivates with students.
“Seeing the students have a good time and being able to enjoy what we are doing in class, while learning at the same time, is a significant accomplishment," Rick said.
“Building relationships and fulfilling the needs of my students has been overwhelmingly great,” he adds.