Teacher moves from the classroom to the gym

2013-04-04T00:00:00Z 2013-04-11T13:11:06Z Teacher moves from the classroom to the gymBy Times Staff nwitimes.com
April 04, 2013 12:00 am  • 

HAMMOND | Dave Clayton finds his job a mix of challenges both old and new. The former schoolteacher directs the sports and fitness activities at the Crossroads YMCA Hammond Branch.

Program director at the YMCA since September, he graduated from Crown Point High School in 2003 and earned a degree in secondary education social studies from Indiana University in 2008. Through June, 2011, he taught in Martinsville, Cedar Lake and Crown Point.

Clayton, 28, sees his work at the YMCA as a continuation of his teaching career.

“Instead of me just helping kids out – youth basketball programs and stuff – I know a little bit more of the teaching aspect side of it – molding the kids into overall good people and trying to be there for them whenever and however I can,” he said.

According to Senior Program Director Dave Mays, whom Clayton replaced as program director, the two men began working at Southlake Family YMCA in Crown Point at 16. The longtime friends graduated high school together, and Clayton was the best man at Mays’ wedding.

Before working at the YMCA, Clayton participated in YMCA programs. He played basketball and especially enjoyed working out in the weight room. “The YMCA was a major part of my life. It always has been,” he said.

Clayton worked at the Monroe County YMCA as a strength training and wellness coach while in college and resumed work at the Southlake Family YMCA in 2008.

In July, 2012 he became building supervisor for the Crossroads YMCA Hammond Branch and was soon promoted. "I thought it was going to be the easiest job in the world – and it's not the most difficult – but let me tell you, it is a lot different from what I thought it was going to be."

Clayton directs everything from children’s programs to adult sports. While past jobs prepared him for a classroom of 30 teenagers, his work now involves more people and age groups.

Mays credits Clayton with the growth of the Men’s Basketball League, now boasting eight teams. Under Clayton, the branch added a five-week strength training class for 12- to 14-year-olds and a Wii Bowling League.

Clayton has also been building relationships, having formed a particularly good friendship with Ken Staniszewski, of East Chicago.

Clayton met Staniszewski, who comes to the YMCA several times each week and has seen an improvement in his health, the first day on the job.

Admitting he was initially skeptical, Staniszewski tried Wii bowling because of Clayton.

“Ken comes along and says, 'Hey, I'll pay and I'll be one of the first in the Wii Bowling League because I believe in you and we're friends – I want to help you out and want to see you succeed,'” Clayton said.

Staniszewski said Clayton’s work at the YMCA is inspiring. “Dave is the type of guy you want on your team; he can get your team going.”

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