The common myth in the world of sports is that athletics and education rarely go hand in hand.

The common myth in the world of sports is that athletics and education rarely go hand in hand.

We see it every day at the college level when players enter into the basketball world, play one season, attend a few classes, and leave for the NBA.

However, Wallenpaupack Area’s John Mercado has debunked this myth.

Recently, Mercado reminded the world that athletics and education do go hand in hand by nominating Jay Haupt for “Teacher of the Month” through the Ertley Kia car dealership in Moosic.

Haupt is not only a math teacher, but is an assistant coach for the Buckhorn football team.

He not only inspires in the classroom, he instructs on the gridiron. Both places teach valuable life lessons.

How it got Started
As most great ideas begin, John’s mother saw the contest on-line and mentioned it to her son.

Mr. Haupt has played an integral part in the Mercado’s lives, providing rides to and from school and football practice.

John’s father, Phillip, is not able to do these things at the time because of diabetes and a kidney disease that leaves him hooked up to dialysis for many hours during the week.

“My mom saw the contest on-line and was the first person to mention it to me and when I looked it up I thought it was pretty cool,” said Mercado.

Next he had to write an essay.

“I talked about how Mr. Haupt drove me back and forth to school, and helped tutor me with the SATs.

“He has really helped me a lot since my dad (Phillip) has diabetes and kidney disease and can’t really do it anymore.

“Mr. Haupt also drove me back and forth to football practice in the summer, he just really helped me, and my mom and dad out a lot,” added John.

Waiting Game
John finished and submitted the essay, and then the waiting game ensued.

A month passed by, then another couple weeks before Haupt finally got the call informing him he had been selected as December’s “Teacher of the Month.”

“At first I thought it was a prank call. I had no idea. I walked down and pulled him (John) out of class and asked him if there was something he forgot to tell me,” joked Haupt.

“He’s an awesome teacher. He tutored me in my math SATs and my scores really went up,” added John.

“He teaches us to be responsible, and he has a personal thing about lying. Never try to lie to Mr. Haupt. He also always wants you to be on time and to be ready.”

Mercado has never had the pleasure of sitting in one of Mr. Haupt’s classes, but has had the honor of being tutored in math, one of Haupt’s specialties.

His scores went up considerably, and gave him a shot at going to a great college. He will don a football uniform for the Division 1-AA Red Flash of St. Francis University.

“He taught me that scores on tests just don’t go up, you have to work hard to improve. You have to put in the time and study hard,” added John.

Football and Schoolwork
One of the greatest accomplishments a teacher can achieve is seeing one of their former students moving on to further their education at a first-rate higher learning institution.

“This is really neat. One of things we always tell the kids is rather than let football use you, use football to get to the next level in your future,” said Haupt.

“This was really cool.”

“Sometimes as teachers you just don’t get the positives. Our families are all very similar and we try to teach these kids that whatever they do, do it to 100 percent of your ability.”

That family feeling was definitely felt recently when Haupt lost his father.

He explains how members of the team made a long trip to Danville for the viewing, and emotion began to fill the classroom.

“There was about 30 kids that came to my dad’s viewing. It’s what we try to instill during the season, that feeling of family, and they are starting to get that. You can’t pay for lessons like that.”

Future Endeavors
Next season John will head to Loretto, to pursue a degree in physical therapy. Haupt will remain on the shores of the Big Lake teaching the next generation of students, and coaching the next squad of Buckhorns.

“It’s nice to see that and it’s nice to see that some of the kids are seeing that and following through. It gives you a proud feeling,” said Haupt.