A Day’s Work: Teacher/coach

(Photo by Polly McCravey)

(Photo by Polly McCravey)

Robert Slate has taught art in Saugerties for 26 years. He’s also the head varsity lacrosse coach.

How did you become interested in teaching?

I was always drawing, painting and sculpting from my earliest years but it never occurred to me to become an art teacher. My high school guidance counselor, Mr. Sudduth, and my high school art teacher, Fred Feldmann, encouraged me to pursue teaching art as a career.

It’s an unusual combination, art and sports. How did that come about?

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I started playing lacrosse in college. While I was playing I had the opportunity to coach inner city kids, and I really liked it.

What kind of education and training have you had?

I received a BS degree in art education from SUNY Buffalo in 1984 and my MS degree in art education from SUNY Buffalo State College in 1989.

I interned as a junior varsity lacrosse coach from 1983 to 1984 in Buffalo at the Nichols School. I also worked as a youth coach with the Watertown Lacrosse Club in 1981-1990 and the Hamburg Lacrosse Club from 1983-1984. I received my New York State coaching certification in football, lacrosse and volleyball in 1985. I also hold Level 1 certification from US Lacrosse.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

I think it’s seeing students and athletes acquire new skills and knowledge, and then watching them develop their abilities and talents.

What is the most challenging part of your work?

It’s difficult keeping the students focused on the tasks we want them to concentrate on. There are so many distractions today.

What is your most memorable experience either as a teacher, coach, or both?

As a teacher, I’m always excited and feel pride when my student’s artwork is selected for display in a show. I had a student, Glen Wilkinson, who was one of my first art students whose work was selected for the MONY Show in Syracuse.

As a coach, it was watching the development of our first group of lacrosse players (class of 2003) go from raw novices into a group of close-knit, confident and dominant lacrosse players; that experience followed closely by our winning season in 2008 — they were our most dominant team ever.

What kind of money do you make as a teacher?

I make a comfortable living.