California Educator

February 2015

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" Y O , L I S T E N U P ! " Brent McClanahan's students are learning how to create a résumé on the computer, assemble port- folios to showcase their skills, and find people to "job shadow." "Ask yourself a few questions first," says McClanahan, their business/computer literacy teach- er. "Who am I? What do I want? And how do I get it?" McClanahan knows a thing or two about dreams, hard work, motivation, and finding success on a personal and professional level. Born and raised in Bakersfield, he was a football star at South High School and Arizona State Universi- ty. He was drafted into the NFL, and from 1973 to 1979 he was a running back for the Minnesota Vikings, playing in six championship playoffs and three Super Bowl games. When asked if he made a fortune, the Kern High School Teachers Associa- tion member laughs. "My first year I made $12,000. My second year I made $14,000. My final year I made $125,000. A person sitting on the bench today is making more than I made in my entire career." Football has battered him physically. He's undergone 30 surgeries, has a titanium hip, and sometimes has a difficult time moving. But instead of feel- ing sorry for himself, he went back to school. (First he tried selling cars, until someone told him he was a terrible salesman.) He earned bachelor degrees in agribusiness and business administration and a master's in curriculum education, receiving his teaching credential from CSU Bakersfield. And now he's teaching at South High School, his alma mater. He was just named the NFL Teacher of the Year, an award honoring former NFL players who enter the field of education after retiring from football. He beat out finalists nationwide. In 1980, he was inducted into the Bob Elias Hall of Fame, and just recently the South High School Hall of Fame. "Going into teaching was natural," says McClanahan. "My parents had a home business taking care of mentally challenged kids, and I was used to helping all kinds of children." Sometimes he shows his Super Bowl rings to students. When he discusses careers, he urges them to go for the brass ring — and pursue a career that makes them happy. "We look up to him," says Edgar Thomas. "He's a great teacher. And he was a famous football player, too!" Super Bowl hero now a super teacher crucial as the nation's defense depends largely on information that comes from foreign languages." OK, she admits, the word "spy" is not exactly erroneous. After joining the Air Force in 1977, she was sent to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey for an intensive yearlong course in Russian, which she had coincidentally studied for a brief time at CSU Los Angeles, where she took classes in political science and Russian history. Next was Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas for a course in cryptology, or how to break code. Then she was sent to the National Security Agency in Washington to put her training to work. When pressed for details, she says, "Hmmmm, I worked with the Russian language, and that's all I can say." Patridge spent two years in West Berlin — with the Russians on the other side of the Berlin Wall, which ad- joined the building where she worked. During this time she worked "round the clock," which was exciting, reward- ing and sometimes dull. "It was during the Cold War," says Patridge, Hesperia Teachers Associ- ation. "I'm a liberal person but not a pacifist. I wanted to give back to my country. I don't feel bad about it, although I lost some friends because they didn't understand." In 1989 she moved to the High Desert and decided to be a substitute teacher. While filling out forms in Hesperia Unified School District, she heard a secretary ask if anyone could speak Russian to assist four newly arrived immigrants. Her hand shot up. She was hired on the spot and was soon teaching on an emergency permit. She earned her teaching credential from Chapman University, which had a satellite cam- pus nearby. Now known as "Granny G" at Hes- peria Junior High School, she teaches language arts and "exploring medicine" to eighth-graders, who have no idea their teacher led such an exciting life before they were born. "I love teaching. It's the best job in the world. And it's nice to have a career I can talk about." 19 V O L U M E 1 9 I S S U E 6

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