Mother. Father. Birthgivers. Caretakers. The unsung superheroes that don’t wear capes. The lifesavers. Those people that feed me. Whatever you may call them, parents play an incredible role in our lives both in the spotlight and behind the scenes, capable of making our lunch one moment and helping us wash our clothes in the next. Parents are our first teachers, our first love, our first friends.
This 2016-2017 school year, 7 Jesuit faculty members were blessed with these titles this year, either as new parents or continuing their parental mission. The Roundup had a chance to sit down with Coach Alexander, Mrs. Gerber, Mr. Golab, Mr. Hauser, Mr. Howard, Mr. Howell, and Mr. Wester to talk about their new gifts from God.
Meet Theodore Benjamin Alexander, the newest son of Jesuit’s assistant coach of varsity basketball, Coach Alexander.
Theodore was born on September 14th, 2016. “To be honest with you, I don’t know how we decided on Theodore. It’s just a name we tossed back and forth and we just liked it,” said Coach Alexander.
Thinking about the months leading up to the pregnancy, he explained that “we didn’t know what we were having, a boy or a girl, and my wife didn’t want to look early… [When we had our first child] It drove me nuts, and so I fought her on it the whole pregnancy, and in my head I just thought ‘I got to have one boy, that’s it, I just want to have at least one boy, somebody I can play catch with and do the whole father-son thing.’ Then the surprise and anticipation ended up being a cool experience, and since then I’ve never found out.”
Coach Alexander and his wife Emily have been married for 13 years, and have 5 boys with the addition of Theo.
“I was kind of hoping for a girl, since we had 4 boys and it would’ve been cool to get both ends of the spectrum and experience both sides, but when I saw it was another boy, I just laughed.” Upon reflection, Coach Alexander commented he’s most looking forward to “every stage [Theodore’s] at. When they get older and they can interact with you a bit, it’s exciting. I’m excited to see all my boys interact with each other, and to sit at the dinner table and see all 5 different personalities interact with each other… It will be cool to see how their personalities blend.”
When asked about some final advice to give to Jesuit students as they become adults, Alexander had this to say:
Everything is about relationships: relationships with your family, with your wife, with your children. It’s about building those relationships and nurturing the ones that are really special to you and taking care of those relationships in everything that you do.
Meet Kayleigh Marie Gerber, daughter of math department co-chair Mrs. Gerber.
Kayleigh was born on January 16th, 2017, to Mrs. Gerber and her husband Greg, who have been married for 2 and a half years. When deciding the name of their first kid, Mrs. Gerber said they “spent a long time debating and considering a list of names! Kayleigh was always one of my favorites, and we call Greg’s sister “K,” and my closest cousin’s middle name is Leigh, so it was connected to the family without being a family name. Marie is my godmother’s name and the name of a saint, which was important to have in the middle name since there is no Saint Kayleigh!”
Describing the events leading up to the pregnancy, Mrs. Gerber recounted, “It was Martin Luther King Day, and we went to Rouge One to get my mind off of the waiting! My labor actually started during the previews! The contractions didn’t start right away, and I wasn’t really sure whether I was in labor or not, so we stayed for the whole movie. My husband kept looking over at me because he knew something was up, but I didn’t want to go to the hospital too early! After our morning movie, we went to the hospital and found out we were having a baby that day!”
When asked about what thoughts were going through her head the first time she held her baby, she said, “After 9 months of carrying her and 8 hours of laboring, to have this precious girl and to look into her eyes and know my whole life was now devoted to loving and caring for this perfect combination of me and the person I love most in the world…tears come to my eyes now as I just think about it. I knew my life was changed forever. In that moment, I became a mom. In that moment, it was just pure love. Pure growth of the heart.” Mrs. Gerber’s life advice to students is:
Fall in love with the people who allow you to be you, who accepts and loves you for everything you are, the good and the bad. Surround yourself with those people. Choose a life that allows you to love most freely.
Meet Madeleine Sophie, daughter of physics teacher Mr. Golab.
Madeleine Sophie was born on November 23, 2016, the first child of Mr. Golab and his wife, who have been married for 2 years. When deciding on her name, Mr. Golab said that “it was the only girls’ name that we could agree on really, if she had to be a boy I don’t know what it would’ve been.”
Mr. Golab explained that they were planning on the baby coming during Thanksgiving break, but she ended up not coming until “that Monday evening, when we [went] in around 10:30 at night into Texas Presby. I [didn’t] come to school that day and we just kind of [hung] at the hospital for a few days until she [was] ready to go, and after that we started learning about how to take care of this new human life that we’re responsible for.”
When I asked Mr. Golab what his first thoughts were when he held his baby, he said one of his first thoughts was “What am I getting myself into?” But then he quickly followed with: “I was so happy. She’s such a beautiful baby to me.”
The newly-fathered physics teacher said he most looks forward to “enjoying the now and my life as a vocation. I’m looking forward to being with her during the summer as she grows,” and he is especially excited to start “teaching her Polish, just simply Polish phrases and colors. I’m hoping she can learn it and be bilingual and maybe trilingual eventually.” Mr. Golab’s advice to students as they become adults is:
Whenever you face a trial in your life, don’t allow yourself to despair right away. Remove yourself from the situation, reflect, pray, go to your loved ones and listen to what they have to say, and really try to take yourself away from the noise around you and really think about what you want. If I didn’t take that quiet time in my life, I don’t know if I would be where I am today.
Meet Matthew Hauser, son of English teacher Mr. Hauser.
Matthew was born on March 21st, 2017, the second child to Mr. Hauser and his wife, who have been married for 3 years. Matthew’s name was chosen, as Hauser explained, because “Matthew was the first boy’s name that we wanted. We’ve alreadyhad our first son, but we didn’t think Nicholas was a Matthew. So we saved it, and this time we couldn’t find anything we liked more more, so we chose Matthew. I think God has a name picked out for each of his kids, and it’s the parent’s role to discern that name.”
Describing the rough events leading up to the pregnancy, Hauser said, “It was coming right before the Spring Break of this year, and we had a tough end of the pregnancy. On New Year’s day actually we went to the Texas Presby hospital because she was showing signs of preterm labor, a lot of uncertainties. The days leading up to it was rather calm. It was very controlled versus a lot of other people.”
Following the birth of Matthew. Hauser remarked that his first thought was a sense of “wonder, awe, and joy, which makes me ponder what my larger role is in the scheme of things.”Hauser’s advice for students as they embark on their journey into finding who they are is:
Don’t stress about what you’re going to become. Really use the gift of discernment and really ask God, really discern what God wants. I think it was Frederick Buechner that said ‘The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.’ Be patient and to pray and reflect and examine themselves. You’re going to do something that gets you up everyday, so pursue something that you love.
Meet John Bailey Howard, son of physics teacher and coach Mr. Howard.
John Bailey was born on December 21st, 2016, and is Mr. Howard’s first child. “John comes from my grandfather’s name,” Howard explained, “and Bailey is my [wife’s] maiden name, so I guess my father-in-law takes the credit for that one.”
Howard recounted the stressful hours leading up to the pregnancy: “We both were just trying to get to Christmas break, and I had a basketball game in McKinney that day. I had a gut feeling something’s going to happen. So I was stressed and nervous, and could not focus on that game one bit. But the game ends, no phone call. I got in my car and drove home, and as soon as I walked through the door she said ‘It’s time to go to the hospital.’ I had no idea. But the timing was crazy.”
Howard said the feeling of holding his child for the first time was “so different than anything I’ve ever experienced before… It all happened so fast, and just a wave of all emotions. Kind of happiness, and kind of fear, and confusion. It’s really hard to explain,” and he’s most looking forward to having his son “hopefully be at Jesuit in a little bit, [and to] just try to enjoy the experiences while they come.” Coach Howard’s life advice to students is:
I think, just let life happen. If I thought things would’ve been like this 10 years ago when I was a Jesuit student, I wouldn’t of believed it. Be open to the opportunities that present themselves. It’s like Ferris Bueler, ‘Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.’
Meet Bryant Howell, son of math teacher Ken Howell.
Bryant is Mr. Howell’s first son, and his name originates from the Celtic word for strong. Leading up to the event, Howell said the “baby was planned to be born that day,” so it was less stressful than some other pregnancies.
Howell explained that when he first saw the baby he “couldn’t believe [he] was a dad and was so happy that everyone was healthy and happy,” and he’s most looking forward to “spending time with my son and watching him discover and learn new things. Also watching his personality develop and grow.” Mr. Howell’s life advice for students is to:
Enjoy life to the fullest, don’t let the little things slow you down. Dream big and learn from failures, because they are just setting you up for something greater down the line.
Meet Erin Wester, daughter of social studies teacher Mr. Wester.
Erin is the 3rd child of Mr. Wester, who says that “with girls names, I was happy with whatever. My wife comes up with a list of names, and since we’re both teachers, as long as the name doesn’t bring up a bad teaching memory, and I can’t make fun of it, then I’m okay with it.”
Interestingly, Wester describes the story leading up to the home birth of Erin: “We knew Erin was coming when she was coming. We had all of our kids born at home, and we just hoped she would come before school started, but by the 1st week of school she just hung on. It was a Wednesday, and [my wife] went into labor Wednesday morning. We do a home birth so it’s always great. It’s a natural, organic method, really low pressure, and my wife’s hardcore so she had all 3 kids without any epidurals or pain medicine. We have a Midwife and a Doula present, and the baby is born. We weigh the baby, go through the usual health and welfare stuff, and we’re done and snoogling with the baby within 2 hours of her being born.”
Reflecting on his feelings holding his baby for the first time, Wester said that “the gravity of having a kid really kicks in when they start to gain cognizance.” Wester continued that he’s most looking forward to when the kids can “make connections. When they get cognitive thought and discussion and actions, that’s when it becomes normal for me because I can talk to them and act like they’re little people.” Mr. Wester’s advice for students is:
There is no real world, just more responsibilities. Kids are a huge part of that. The more kids you have, the less free time there is and more responsibility there is, and that’s not a bad thing. Choosing to be a good parent involves a lot of sacrifice, and that’s okay because the end result will be worth it.
With these amazing stories and unique experiences that each teacher had, I believe this definitely proves that teachers indeed have lives outside of school!
Stay tuned to The Roundup for more Jesuit community articles, and click the link at the top of the article for more about teachers and their kids.