The secret life of teachers

Madeline Eakin, Feature

Have you ever wondered what a teacher’s life is like outside of school? Well, many students would be fascinated to hear that some of their teachers have exciting out-of-school activities or experiences that they may not have mentioned. 

Racer Moody is the Social Studies teacher for 9th grade and the head wrestling coach here at Kalani High School. He has been teaching for seven years and coaching for 15 years. While teaching and coaching may be his main priorities, some students would be surprised to learn that they aren’t his only occupations.

If you haven’t heard, Coach Racer is a professional stuntman and has participated in many well-known movies and shows. Some of the most popular include BattleShip (2012), Jurassic World: Falling Kingdom (2018), Jungle Cruise (2021), Hawaii Five-0, and Magnum P.I.

He says he grew up in the movie industry because his dad was a stuntman. As a kid, he worked as an extra, but his dream was to be a professional actor.

In college, he got the opportunity to work with a few stuntmen and take some theater classes, but he admits that the theater wasn’t as great as he thought it would be. 

“I realized that I didn’t really like acting as much as I liked stunts,” Coach Racer says. “Memorizing lines was not as exciting to me as I thought it was going to be, and I realized I really liked the action part of it.”

He performed his first stunt at 18 years old when he was a freshman in college. He says it came naturally to him because of his athletic ability.

 “As I got a little bit older, I started training in stunts, and I played every sport known to man growing up,” he says. “So, it kind of came naturally to me.” 

Coach Racer says that one of his most remarkable stunts was when Dwayne the Rock Johnson pushed him into a wooden wall in Jungle Cruise

“That was the most anxious I was getting about it, maybe it was because it was ‘The Rock’,” he says. ”He was so much bigger than me, and he’s such a big movie star.” 

The production team for Jungle Cruise flew him out to Kauai to shoot the stunts for the movie. He stayed there for five weeks because there were rehearsals for blocking and ensuring the stunts were safe. He says he was on set around three days a week.

“That was fun being put up in a hotel,” he says. “Being surrounded by other stunt people too and just kind of hanging out. It was overall just a fun production.”

He says he had to fall down a flight of stairs on two shows, Hawaii Five-0 and Off the Map. In a scene in Off the Map, he doubled as a woman by wearing a wig and dressing like one.

“The Hawaii Five-0 one was intimidating because the stairway was very narrow, so it was hard to navigate your way down without banging your head on things,” he says. “That was fun, though, and once I did it came out clean, so I was pretty happy with it.”

According to Coach Racer, there aren’t any requirements to become a stuntman, but there are certifications that look good on your resume. He’s gone through training for underwater stunts and stunt driving.

For his scuba diving stunt training, he went to a class to learn about the science behind it and then did a couple of days of diving with an instructor. 

For stunt driving, he had to train in Los Angeles for a three-day course, and he learned how to slide cars to perform a 90, 180, reverse 180, and more.

“It’s a matter of, you need to practice it a lot to be able to get good at it, and here in Hawaii, there’s not really anywhere you can really practice it,” he explains.

Curtis Bard is new to Kalani and also teaches 9th-grade Social Studies. He moved here three years ago from Washington, D.C. He was a lawyer in the D.C Superior Court and worked for the senior judges, writing their court opinions to help them analyze everything for their criminal cases. 

Mr. Bard enjoying Waikiki. Mr. Bard joined the Kalani faculty for the 2022-23 school year as a social studies teacher. (Curtis Bard)

“It was interesting because we had a lot of cases that were in the news,” Bard says.

He was also a personal injury, bankruptcy, and disability lawyer. For example, if someone got injured in a car accident, he would represent them and sue the insurance company.

He says there was a lot of stress being a lawyer because you needed to work long hours, and the work is intense.

“It was a mixed feeling, I guess,” he says. “I loved the law itself; the law is really fascinating to study, but being a lawyer, there’s a lot of drawbacks.” 

Now, as a teacher in Hawaii, he has many hobbies, including hiking, swimming at the beach, and computer programming. But his favorite activity is music, and he plays piano and sings. 

 Mr. Bard says that balancing activities with work this year can be challenging, especially because he has a far drive home from school. 

“I feel like I’m constantly shuffling activities,” he says. 

Lastly, Lisa Potterton teaches all of the business classes and is the advisor for DECA Club. Potterton has been teaching at Kalani for 15 years. 

When she was younger, her mother owned a jewelry and clothing store that she used to help with. They sold all the latest ’90s accessories and apparel.

Lisa Potterton warms up serves during a United States Tennis Association (USTA) League National Championship match. Mrs. Potterton teaches Business and is the DECA Club advisor at Kalani High School. Her women’s tennis team regularly plays in the National Championships. (Josh Potterton)

“I helped her with the store a lot, and we would sell things, you know, manage inventory, manage the store, run the store; it was a lot of work,” she says.

Once she got older, she majored in marketing, worked in public relations, worked at a radio station, and in retail. She says these experiences help her today as a teacher.

Potterton says that one of her favorite activities is tennis, which she has been playing since she was 16. She started in high school and now plays for a women’s team with the United States Tennis Association (USTA). She says that her team usually makes it to nationals every year.

“It does keep me busy, but it’s important to have extracurriculars in your life and not just focus only on my work, otherwise I’m going to get burnt out,” she says.