TOY: Loveday wanted to coach, not teach, but now he does both

Mar. 24, 2013 @ 02:17 PM

Chad Loveday never wanted to teach.

The current Jones Cove Elementary middle school math and social studies teacher, awarded Sevier County Teacher of the Year for middle grades, originally received a bachelor's degree in exercise science at Carson-Newman University.

"I never wanted to teach. The reason I got a degree in exercise science is because I wanted to coach basketball, but then my advisor said I would have a hard time coaching if I didn't have a teaching certificate," Loveday said.

He worked in retail for several years and got a master's in education. He taught for one year, then took a year off, going back to retail.

"My first year of teaching wasn't ideal, and I questioned whether or not I wanted to stay in teaching," Loveday said. "So I took a year off and hadn't really left retail altogether so I went back to that."

Loveday said he was always apprehensive about standing in front of a class, but he gave it one more shot at Jones Cove Elementary School, "and once I started teaching here, I loved it. It worked out perfectly, and I've been here ever since."

And it opened the way for him to coach basketball, which he's done at Jones Cove since he started 11 years ago.

He's also helped the school receive grants and funding for after-school programs and summer school programs, worked on different committees within the school and gone out and evaluated other schools. He said this versatility and range of experiences may have been a factor in his recognition.

"I think that along with the success I've had with students and their test scores," Loveday said. "And I'm working with a great staff here."

Loveday said the ideal teacher must be committed to the students.

"It's a mixed bag year-to-year with the personalities and academic levels of students. They have to know you care about them. Even some of the children who have the worst discipline problems are some of the ones you care about the most because you know what they're fighting against and the situation they're dealing with."

Loveday noted that the school has students from some of the most impoverished areas in the county.

"I gravitate to situations where I feel like I can make a difference," Loveday said.

He tries to have a good relationship with his students and his players, but he sets limitations and expectations in the classroom and on the court.

There are no desks in his classroom. Instead, his students sit in groups at tables to promote teamwork.

"It's a team concept in here. We work together and solve things together," Loveday said. "They have a lot of tasks that they work on. We set goals at the beginning of the day, and we don't look at who's highest and who's lowest, but who's making the biggest improvement."

That notion is the key to what Loveday hopes his students take away from his classes.

"I hope they get the sense that it's not where you start from, it's where you finish, and that's not just in the classroom but in life," Loveday said. "I try to also teach life skills because I want them to know the opportunities are out there if they're willing to work for them."

And, he added, it's the same on the basketball court.

rhargett@themountainpress.com