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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 Thursday, Oct. 2, the 275th day of 2014. There are 90 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The ladies have adopted the fashion of wearing representations of insects in the flowers on their bonnets. Some look very natural.
1889 -- 125 years ago: T.F. Cary, former Rock Island alderman, has accepted a position as salesman for a Chicago wallpaper house and plans to move to that city.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Work on the new telephone building on 18th Street between 6th and 7th avenues is progressing rapidly.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Rock Island's new theater at 3rd Avenue and 19th Street will have a name significant of its location. The "Rocket" is scheduled to open Thanksgiving Day.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Two of Rock Island's newest water towers were vandalized last night, including the one at 38th Street and 31st Avenue, where police took five Moline boys into custody about 9 p.m..
1989 -- 25 years ago: Some of us who live in the Quad-Cities take the Mississippi River for granted, or at least we used to. But the river is not taken for granted by our visitors. And most Quad-Citians are realizing the importance of the river to this area as increased emphasis is placed on tourism.







(More History)