Teachers are people too


Photo Morgan Felt

Here, IB Biology teacher Tiffany Oliver is featured with an underwater ROV robot she built during a STEM camp.

Morgan Felt , Staff Writer

You’re casually strolling through Publix, pushing the shopping cart with your mom reading out the list to you, when suddenly, out of the corner of your eye you see your fifth period history teacher. Instantaneously you shove the cart to the right, and dart into the chip aisle for cover, hoping to avoid the seemingly inevitable. The following two minutes are filled with cringe worthy small talk as you smile your way through.

This situation is pretty relatable, but many teachers do much more than just teach. Some are parents, have unique hobbies, and even work summer jobs.

In his spare time, chemistry teacher James Atkins renovates houses.

“I got started renovating houses in college when I lived near an apartment complex that was abandoned because the renovators went bankrupt. Then another company took over and needed workers so I started,” Atkins said. “At one point, I wasn’t teaching at Robinson, and this couple wanted somebody to renovate their house and I could do it for a lot cheaper than the other larger companies, so I did it and I took a year off of teaching and I renovated the house and when I went back they had filled the position, but that gave me the opportunity to begin teaching at Robinson so I don’t regret the decision at all.”

Like Atkins, Latin teacher James Buchanan creates things in his spare time, although instead of building, he crafts novels.

“I have released two novels so far, and they’re in the genre magic realism. They are a part of a trilogy and I’m currently in the process of writing the third,” Buchanan said.

Despite his duties as a teacher and a dad, Buchanan said writing actually takes off some stress.

“It’s difficult, but I stick to a strict schedule about one hour of writing per night. I only write after my kids go to sleep because I never let my writing take away from time with my kids,” he said. “I think in general teaching is one of the most stressful jobs and if you don’t have some sort of outlet this profession can really eat you alive.”

Buchanan’s novel Personal Demons is available on amazon.com for purchase.

Unlike Atkins and Buchanan, biology teacher Tiffany Oliver’s passion lies a bit closer to her teaching job.

“It started out when I was in a college research class and I had taken some brittle stars and I was looking at them and all of the sudden a little baby brittle star leg popped out of the mom’s belly. This was where my love for brittle stars started and ever since I have been involved with the marine biology program at USF,” Oliver said. “I also recently went to Belize and got the opportunity to work with the program “Fragments of Hope“, and there I worked with other researchers and helped reestablish the coral ecosystems in Belize.”

So next time your teacher takes a little long to grade a test, or seems tired during class remember that, like you, they have lives outside of the classroom too.