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The worst news became the best news for RI teacher
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Photo: Paul Colletti/pcolletti@qconline.com

From the day he began as a student at Black Hawk College, Shawn Trask wanted one thing -- to be a police officer.

Never in his wildest dreams did he see himself teaching math at Rock Island High School.

Mr. Trask, a Moline High School graduate, earned an associate's degree in law enforcement from BHC and, before his 21st birthday, applied to become a police officer in Rock Island.

"I took all of the tests, and shortly after my 21st birthday I was hired,'' Mr. Trask said. "It was the dream job, and I loved every minute of it."

However, he began to have back problems and, despite trying to work through them with medication and exercise, the pain became too much.

"I was doing anything I could to avoid surgery," Mr. Trask said. "I worked right up to the day that I went into my doctor's office, and he asked me if I had anything to eat that day. I told him I hadn't, and he sent me in for surgery to repair a disc.

"Shortly after the surgery, my doctor told me he had taken a substantial amount of disc out of my back, and that I probably should give up my job.

"Here I was, 23 years old and being told I couldn't work in the job I thought I'd never leave. At the same time, I was recently married and I didn't want to chance it and injure the back worse."

Then, he had a chance meeting with a friend from his days as a security guard at IBP.

"Pat Mitchell and I had become pretty good buddies at IBP, but we hadn't seen each other for a while," Mr. Trask said. "At the time, after my surgery, he was coaching football at Rock Island and I went to a game and saw him. He told me he was going through a change in his life and had gone back to school to become a teacher.

"I went home and talked to my wife (Michelle), and the idea of teaching piqued my interest. Michelle told me it might be an idea, and I enrolled at Black Hawk and Western Illinois University."

Mr. Trask got his first job as a sixth-grade teacher in Moline but knew his calling was as a math teacher at a higher level. He joined the Rocky football staff and soon got the break he was looking for.

"A job came open at Edison Junior High, and I got that. I worked my way up to the high school, and now this is my 16th year teaching. I love every minute of it.

"Sure, I still miss law enforcement to this day because we had such a cohesive group. I think that's why I love coaching so much, because we are a very tight-knit group and we develop a great chemistry."







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  Today is Wednesday, April 23, the 113th day of 2014. There are 252 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: Some persons are negotiating for 80 feet of ground on Illinois Street with a view of erecting four stores thereon. It would serve a better purpose if the money was invested in neat tenement houses.
1889 — 125 years ago: The Central station, car house and stables of the Moline-Rock Island Horse Railway line of the Holmes syndicate, together with 15 cars and 42 head of horses, were destroyed by fire. The loss was at $15,000.
1914 — 100 years ago: Vera Cruz, Mexico, after a day and night of resistance to American forces, gradually ceased opposition. The American forces took complete control of the city.
1939 — 75 years ago: Dr. R. Bruce Collins was reelected for a second term as president of the Lower Rock Island County Tuberculosis Association.
1964 — 50 years ago: Work is scheduled to begin this summer on construction of a new men's residence complex and an addition to the dining facilities at Westerlin Hall at Augustana College.
1989 — 25 years ago: Special Olympics competitors were triple winners at Rock Island High School Saturday. The participants vanquished the rain that fell during the competition, and some won their events; but most important, they triumphed over their own disabilities.




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