He stays late after school to give students extra help so they don’t become overwhelmed and drop out.
He plays basketball with them during the day, saying it’s an opportunity for him to connect with them in a different way. Once a week, he takes them to a ropes course to build trust and encourage teamwork.
“It puts kids in a position where, by the end of the program, I’m putting my safety into their hands, and it all transfers back into the classroom,” said Jay Schaefer, a math teacher at the Haverhill Alternative School. “They know I believe in them and that I know they can succeed.”
For going above and beyond for his students, Schaefer was named this year’s Educator of the Year by the Haverhill YMCA.
He is the fifth person to be honored since the program began in 2009.
“Anything beyond being nominated would have been a surprise to me,” Schaefer said. “When they announced the winner, I stood up and began clapping, not realizing it was for myself.”
Schaefer is the first teacher from the Alternative School to receive the honor. The school is for students who have trouble succeeding in a traditional classroom setting and need special attention.
“For me it was kind of neat to have our school recognized in that light, in that it put us on the map in a good way,” Schaefer said.
The YMCA held its annual awards program on Oct. 30 at DiBurro’s function hall, where Schaefer was one of 10 nominees.
“The whole night was about bringing different parts of the school district together to say we all do good work and that we all care about what we do,” Schaefer said.
During the celebration, the YMCA presented its Community Partnership Award to Lester Schindel, its Commitment to Community Award to Andrew Herlihy, and its Volunteer of the Year Award to Sandra Kerwin.