Years after graduating, two Shenandoah men’s basketball point guards, Jeremy Hartman ’99 and Tyson Thompson ’03, have ended up in the same area of Staunton, Virginia, helping the community’s youth through their careers as physical education (PE) teachers.
Hartman is a health/PE teacher and the head coach of the boys’ varsity basketball team at Wilson Memorial High School in Fishersville, Virginia, while Thompson is a PE teacher at A.R. Ware Elementary School in Staunton.
“It’s the most fun job I’ve ever had,” said Thompson. He added that it’s very rewarding when he sees students he taught nine years ago be successful after high school, and when they tell him what an impact he had on their lives, even though they might not have realized it at the time. These small wins are why Thompson continues to be a teacher.
He even goes out of his way to attend his students’ sporting events and enjoys seeing how excited they get when they see him in the stands.
As for Hartman, he said truly values and enjoys developing long-lasting relationships with his students and helping them achieve their goals, like being the first person in their family to attend college.
In 2012, Hartman was fortunate enough to lead a group of young women to a state basketball championship, and he considers those players family. In fact, he recently attended the first birthday party for the daughter of one of his former players.
“I think I was destined to play this sort of role because I had a few mentors along the way who helped me and were so instrumental in my life, that I feel it is my obligation to pay it forward,” said Hartman.
As both alumni reflect on their passion for teaching, they suggest that to be successful educators “you truly need to be in it for your students,” said Thompson.
You have to be genuine with them because the relationship you build with [them] will influence how they work. If a student truly feels that you’re invested in them, they will respect you.” Tyson Thompson ’03
This dedication began years ago when they came to Shenandoah. Originally attracted to the school because of its men’s basketball program, they fell in love with the university and the impact it would have on the rest of their lives.
“So much is predicated on who you know and the connections that you make,” said Thompson. “Those connections are what helped me, and to this day I have more connections than I can count that are just a phone call or text away – connections that I’ve made from attending Shenandoah University and living in the Winchester community.”
Hartman’s education at Shenandoah gave him the ability to feel comfortable providing the scientific portion of health and PE in front of a classroom or gymnasium full of students. His instructors were invaluable resources in teaching him how to conduct a lesson, relate to students and provide information in a way that each student could understand and process.
Hartman also said he appreciates the social experiences he had while at Shenandoah, which have led him in his career and personal life as he stays connected with his friends and teammates. “Current students should embrace the diversity at SU and learn from and appreciate all the various events and activities on campus,” he said. “They gave me a much greater outlook on the world as a whole and have helped shape me as an individual.”