This Just In: Teachers Don’t Live at School

What do your teachers do when they’re not in an endless cycle of grading? These three staff members are prime examples of teachers with fascinating hobbies.

By Alison Kirsch and Jailyn Taylor

Ever wondered what your teachers do outside of school? What takes up their time when they aren’t grading papers, or creating lesson plans? Believe it or not, teachers do have hobbies. They have special interests and fun things they do outside of school, to either relax or pass time. So what do teachers do?

Jack Taylor, Assistant Band Director

Contrary to popular belief, teacher Jack Taylor does not live at Central High School. In fact, his hobbies include much more than grading spot checks and dealing with unruly high schoolers. Mr. Taylor is an avid sailor and an accomplished man of the lake. “I’m the communications manager of the Angostura Yacht club and do quite a bit of sailing there during the summer,” he said. “Last summer I took the band and choir directors to a regatta (sailboat race) and we managed to win second place.”

Along with sailing, Mr. Taylor enjoys mountain biking. “I usually bike Skyline or M Hill and recently taught my dog Auri to follow my back tire so she will go on shorter rides with me.” As if that wasn’t enough, Taylor has also taught himself how to solder. “This was my pandemic hobby,” he said. “I started by building a computer keyboard from scratch and have also made patch cables for guitar. I just like tinkering with things and making them work.” Mr. Taylor also enjoys skiing, video games, and spending time with his dog. What a guy.

Matt Berg, Art Teacher

Art teacher Matt Berg participates in many intriguing hobbies. However, there are two that really stick out. “In the summer I like to go hunting for morel mushrooms,” he said. “I hunt for them commercially in Idaho and Montana.” Mr. Berg goes out during the summer to old wildfire sites to look for the rare mushrooms. With the help of specialized scientists, they use special maps to find the best places where these elusive mushrooms hide and prosper. When found, the mushrooms are then sold to high scale restaurants. “I do this usually for a month or so,” Mr. Berg says.

Not only does Mr. Berg hunt for mushrooms, but he has his very own garden which he uses to grow and produce his own fresh food. “I have about 3 acres of land where I garden and produce my own food,” he said. “When I go on vacation, I make sure I weed and get everything in order before I leave. I have to make sure my garden is taken care of before I can head out. But when I get back its all out of control.” With his own garden in hand, Berg is able to do something rather unique with the food he grows: fermentation. Mr. Berg makes things like homemade sauerkraut, kimchi, hot sauce, pickles and other fermented foods. “The kind of stuff I do is a process where you just salt the pickles in a slated byrne and you let them ferment so they age. You have to be really clean when it comes to fermenting your food. Cleanliness, salinity based on weight, and that’s it. It takes a lot of trial and error to perfect fermenting.” Mr. Berg likes having his own garden, and fermenting food is a neat hobby that comes with the territory of having your own home grown food at the tip of your fingers.

Andrew Belsaas, Head Band Director

Another teacher, Andrew Belsaas, enjoys many intriguing hobbies. Arguably the most interesting is his pottery. “I have been throwing pots on the pottery wheel for about seven years now,” he said. “I work in a studio in the basement of the Dahl Fine Art Center, and sell some of my works through the Perfect Hanging Gallery downtown.” Mr. Belsaas’s favorite pieces to create are bowls because there are so many considerations between things like size, shape, depth, and rim shape. He plans to move from hobby to side-hustle in the next few years and is slowly working on creating a home studio. You can follow his ceramics on Instagram @andrewbelsaasceramics.

Music has always been a crucial part of Mr. Belsaas’s life. “Before the pandemic, I was playing piano at a wine bar monthly, and accompanying the choir for the School of Mines & Technology,” he said. “I also play percussion, and am involved in the Summer Municipal Band, who has free concerts at the memorial park bandshell Wednesday nights through the summer.” Along with pottery and music, Belsaas also dabbles in video games, eating taco bell, cooking, and sports (such as running, sand volleyball, and swimming).

These three teachers are prime examples of all the fun, cool hobbies that our staff participate in all the time. So next time you think your teacher is boring and stays at school all the time, think again.

Header image courtesy of Mr. Taylor