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Schlather teachers take a road less traveled

Edward Jones and Kip Coulter couldn’t envision their lives taking so many twists and turns that eventually led them into the classroom as teachers, much less as colleagues at Schlather Intermediate School. Jones began his odyssey at Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD as a bus driver while Coulter spent one year as a custodian at Cibolo Valley Elementary School before a five-year stint in the district warehouse. Now Jones imparts many of his real-life experiences after a 20-plus year career in the United States Air Force as a 6th grade Social Studies teacher while Coulter oversees instruction as a 5th grade Mathematics instructor. 

Jones was seeking a new direction in life after settling in Schertz upon his military retirement. “A lot of my friends were former educators and they kept telling me to look into teaching,” Jones said. Some of his military duties included teaching at the highest levels of government. “I taught nuclear, biological, chemical warfare and defense at the White House Military Office. I really liked teaching and building curriculum.” He enrolled in the TeachWorthy program while working on his certification training while driving a school bus, then as a paraprofessional coach, a long term substitute teacher, leading to what Jones described as, “...where I need to be, as a sixth grade Social Studies teacher.”

A chance meeting at a job fair he attended with Yvette Estrada, Operations Supervisor for the Transportation Department, provided the launchpoint for his new vocation. “I have a Master’s degree, I’m not driving a school bus,” Jones said to himself upon meeting Estrada. “But she said, ‘This gets you in the door here. You get to start building relationships’ and it kind of sold me,” he added. 

Driving the streets of Schertz, Cibolo and Universal City with students helped Jones develop a trait he credits for his effectiveness in the classroom. “I realized the value of building relationships with kids,” he said. “What is it they find important, what do they like and don’t like. You start building trust and rapport and it makes your job much easier, and the lessons from that bus reflect that in the classroom.”

Coulter, meanwhile, found himself spinning his wheels as far as his career was concerned. A bachelor’s degree in Business Administration was not leading nowhere fast, and it was his wife who suggested a teaching career. “She was like, ‘You should try teaching; you get along well with kids,’ and I started diving into the Alternative Certification program,” Coulter said. 

There would be a lot of steps Coulter would have to take to attain his certification though. Long days as a custodian, especially in summertime, was physically demanding. The warehouse job was also demanding. Getting an opportunity, however, remained his north star. “I just wanted to give it a shot,” he said. “I put in all this time and effort, spent time away from my wife and two sons. I finally got an interview (at SCUC) and it all worked out.” 

It would require a full day of work, followed by attending online classes in the evening during the pandemic. Coulter’s wife would assume a heavier load taking care of their two sons while he labored to finish his certification. “My oldest is seven and my youngest is three. I want them to know it doesn’t matter where you start. As long as you put in hard work, you can get anywhere you want.”

That approach is now working as he teaches mathematics, using different methods to get his students to understand the concepts. “It’s just trying to find a way to connect to a kid. Sometimes it’s about letting the student help the students and drive their own instruction,” Coulter said. “You want to teach about 10-15 minutes and let them find the simplest connection and guide them to the right answer.”

While Coulter continues to grow into teacher shoes he has set his sights on continuing to make a difference in another arena. “I really want to try special education,” he said..” I already have my certification. I want to help those kids who need a little extra help in whatever subject matter that might be.”

Meanwhile Jones sees himself staying put, impacting the future, one student at a time. “When I start looking at how social studies actually incorporates a lot like technology and human development and where we’re going as a civilization, I gotta tell you, I feel like the universe put me exactly where I need to be.”