Midway High School Girls Head Track Coach Ronny Boles said the key to successfully coaching both track and teaching math is keeping a positive mindset.
“I always hate when I see some coach just screaming at some kid at the last part of a three-mile race: ‘Pick it up!’ ” he said. “You know, that’s what they’re trying to do probably. They’re probably not thinking ‘You know, I’m going to go slower so I can finish last.’ ”
Boles has been with Midway for 19 years of his 27-year teaching career. He coaches girls track and boys and girls cross country, but in the past five years shifted from being a traditional Algebra teacher to helping students who stumbled academically.
Boles now teaches Math Models, a recovery math course for 10th-grade students who didn’t pass the state accountability test the previous year.
In the five years he has taught Math Models, Boles’ students have a 90 percent passing rate. Of his 40 students this year, 30 took the state test in December and 18 passed, or 60 percent.
But Midway officials expect him to retain his 90 percent passing rate after his remaining students take the state test in the spring.
“I enjoy teaching those kids because they appreciate when they accomplish something, because they’re not used to accomplishing much in math,” Boles said. “They’re used to failing in math.”
Midway High School Principal Jeff Gasaway said students often say their favorite teacher is Boles.
“Holy smokes, he makes such a positive impact for the students in his class. He teaches them so much about math, helps them to be successful,” Gasaway said. “But one of the things that sticks out the most about Coach Boles is that he’s a man of character and really gives the kids a lot of lessons about good, quality character and how to be great people.”
The veteran coach didn’t begin his career in education, but spent six years in sports retail before landing his first teaching job in Cumby Independent School District.
He meandered through other teaching jobs in Central Texas districts before landing in Midway ISD where he started as an assistant track coach.
He became head coach about seven years ago and received his recent teaching position because of his ability to manage at-risk youth.
Boles thinks he’s successful connecting with students because he doesn’t take himself too seriously.
“Sometimes in education we forget about the kids,” he said. “They want to have fun too. That doesn’t mean we’re playing all the time, but I try to have a good time and if they have a good time, great. But if not, I don’t worry about that too much.”
Boles said he never gives his students homework because he knows it won’t get done. Instead, everyone does all their coursework in class, which students respond to well.
“If you give me 30 minutes (of work in class), I’m happy,” he said. “For these kids, 30 minutes of math is probably 29 minutes more than they’ve done every day in the last five years.”
The students agree that Boles’ methods work.
Midway student Ger’Markee Satterwhite started Boles’ class in the fall and said his math grade already rose from a C to a high B.
Satterwhite said he enjoys Boles’ class because the teacher is always laughing, but still reaches goals.
“He showed me I can really do well in math,” Satterwhite said.
The coach doesn’t track his coaching or academic record. Boles plays the long game.
“Personal records come not when you’re trying for them, but when you have perfect conditions — great competition and great conditions,” Boles said. “That’s when you accomplish great things. When not trying to accomplish something great, but you’re just going through the process of what you’ve been doing, it all comes together.”