Mr. Kish: Football Captain to History Teacher

By: Emma Kolick.

Mr. Kish prepares for the upcoming school day.

At North Royalton High School, Mr. Kish can be found in the back of the 400’s hallway teaching sophomores general and AP US History. Despite the fact that since 2002 over 2,000 students have taken his class, only a limited number of students know what he’s like outside the classroom. The former Baldwin Wallace football player now leads a much different lifestyle than he did in college, though his past still plays a significant role in the person that he is today.

“I had really strong teachers in high school who helped me out a lot, and not just in education,” Mr. Kish said nostalgically. “They helped me appreciate what I was learning about, and they made me see I had a strong desire to coach football and teach history.” Playing football helped him deal with the stress that comes along with high school, and it also helped him see what he was passionate about: bringing out the best in people.

After graduating from Midpark High School as the football captain, Mr. Kish went on to Baldwin Wallace University as a football player and pursued a major in education.

After student teaching during college, an opportunity arose at NRHS shortly following his graduation. He then received a position as a history teacher, and he quickly become a favorite amongst sophomores; this still holds true sixteen years later.

“He’s a teacher who you’re not scared to be friendly with,” sophomore Casey Dunlay said. “The way he teaches is well suited to how many students learn. He really is a good, kind and intelligent person,” he continued.

In addition to prepping for his classes and creating lesson plans, Mr. Kish still tries to stay knowledgeable and up to date on current events. Many people are already aware of his intelligence due to his success on the popular television game show “Jeopardy!”

He explained how he applied to play on the show for years, but was never accepted. A few years later, he found out they were currently looking for contestants in the Cleveland area. He reapplied once again and was notified by the show that he had been accepted. “They must have lowered their standards just for me,” he said and laughed.

On March 13th, 2014, he took home significant cash after winning on the show. “Looking back to that experience, which was almost five years ago, I really just remember it being a great couple of days,” said Mr. Kish. “It was a very exciting time, and I ended up being fortunate enough to win.”

Though he thoroughly enjoyed his appearance on the show, he gets plenty of enjoyment from his position as a teacher. This enjoyment does not come from the students alone, but also various other people he interacts with during the course of his day.

“The staff, students and administration are great people to work with. Every day I remain intellectually stimulated,” he said. “Working with people like this have made me more thoughtful and considerate of people and their ideas. I also think I have become more empathetic, as I try to understand everything that people are going through outside of my classroom.”

Rachel Kuchta discusses her favorite memories from Mr. Kish’s class with her friend, Brandt Dougherty.

Sophomore Rachel Kuchta would agree with Mr. Kish’s insight into himself. “He’s flexible and gives you time to finish your work,” she said. “He’s super entertaining, and let’s us digress from conversation a lot to help us understand a concept. The other day he playfully teased me because of how big my jacket was. We ended up having a discussion over it in class, and he ended up relating my jacket back to the topic we were studying. He’s a great teacher,” she said with a laugh.

“AP US History definitely isn’t my favorite subject, but he makes it so fun for everyone in his class,” Rachel continued to say. She went on to explain how APUSH is the hardest class she has taken at NRHS, but due to his empathy for his students, he has created a learning environment where she feels as if she can do almost anything she sets her mind to.

After class, Mr. Kish carries the excitement from his work day with him as he comes home to his wife and two sons, who are ages five and nine. With the energy coming from two young boys, his home life is just as busy as his classroom.

“My kids both play a lot of sports, which leaves me pretty busy,” he said. “We still try to do numerous other things, such as going to baseball games and going on vacations.” Although his home life remains busy, he says he loves being a dad, and it has helped him grow as a person in all aspects of his life, including teaching. This growth, starting in 2002, has been a gradual process over time.

“When I first started teaching, I never really examined how people felt about things. I’ve seen that kids learn ten different ways, so it has made me more open-minded as to how I think. I have some kids who love my class, and some kids who don’t, so it’s really made me consider how other kids feel as well,” he said thoughtfully.

Although being a leader comes with the added pressure of not living up to student’s high expectations, he believes the rewards of such a challenge are well worth it. Speaking from his own high school experience, he said, “Enjoy and embrace what high school has to offer. You won’t get another phase of your life like this, so make the most of it and get involved.”

Emma Kolick is currently a freshman at North Royalton High School. She is involved in numerous clubs such as student council, Key Club, Spanish Club, Fish Club, and STAND. She is also a member of the girls track team. Outside of school she enjoys yoga, spending time with her friends, reading and writing. After high school, she plans to attend college and possibly pursue a career in education and journalism.