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Call him 'Coach': Camas County teacher connects with kids through nicknames

Randy "Coach" Jewett steps up to play many roles in his small Fairfield, Idaho, school.

FAIRFIELD, Idaho — Editor's note: This content is sponsored by CapEd Credit Union.

Randy Jewett leads his sixth-grade history class at Camas County Schools in Fairfield with a high-energy style. He states facts, asks questions and calls on his students in a rapid-fire fashion.

"He has a lot of energy and makes it super fun," sixth grader Rylie Blodgett said.

He also moves quickly around the room to engage close up with the students.

"He's kind of like back there talking to somebody and then he can be like right here in a few seconds," sixth grader Roenen Ferraro said.

"I hope I don't drive them crazy bouncing around like that, but it does keep them on their toes, keeps them awake," Jewett said.

Then there are the nicknames, including "Czar Roenen the First" for Roenen Ferraro.

"I think it's because I like studying about world war," Ferraro explained.

He gives all the students one. Other students are "Colton 45," "Big man," "Reverend Mellow" and "Ryles."

"I like it," Rylie Blodgett said, smiling. "I don't know. I just think it's fun.”

Jewett jokingly explains that he can't remember anybody's name, but he can remember their nickname. It's really all about connecting with the kids.

"They love it," Jewett said. "I even have elementary kids asking, ‘What's my nickname? What's my nickname?’ And I go, you've got to give me time."

Adults are not exempt.

"I nickname half the teachers, too," Jewett said.

It wouldn't seem right if he didn't have one himself. The kids don't call him Mr. Jewett.

"Oh, It's just 'Coach'"," he said.

He's called "Coach" for good reason. Camas County has a population count just north of 1,100. The school has only 188 students K-12. In a small town, sometimes someone has to step up. "Coach" is one of them. Over the years he's been football coach, basketball coach, track and field coach and student council advisor, kind of a coach in its own right.

"I wanted to. I really wanted to," Jewett said. "You could see where you were really maybe helping the kids and helping the school, so you just did it."

Of course, he's a teacher.

"Teach history like you're sitting by a fire telling stories," Jewett said.

Plus, he's the vice principal.

"There's a good chance to help where maybe there's deeper frustrations within a kid," Jewett said.

He also feels a deep connection to his community. He and his wife Wendy are third generation residents of Camas County and went to school here. Their son is fourth-generation.

"You gotta love it here, but there's just something that gets in your soul about being on the Camas Prairie," Jewett said.

While he'll stay on the Camas Prairie, it's time to move on in life.

"This is my swan song," Jewett said.

"Coach" is calling it a career at the end of the school year.

"I think mainly because I want to spend more time with Wendy," Jewett said.

You better believe she has a nickname, too. He affectionately calls her "Boodle."

"If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't be here," Jewett said. "So excuse me for getting emotional, but she's why everything has worked out for me."

It has worked out well for a history teacher who has made a little history of his own on the fields and courts and in the classrooms of Camas County.

A couple other notes: Coach has been named Idaho football coach of the year in his division. He was Idaho 8-man football player of the year back in 1977, when he played in high school.

By the way, his wife, Wendy, also worked at the school in Fairfield. She retired after 20 years as a lunch lady.

Educators, for information on submitting an application for a classroom grant through the Idaho CapEd Foundation, visit www.capedfoundation.org..
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