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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, Sept. 17, the 260th day of 2014. There are 105 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: We are told league merchants have paid no attention to the prohibition on selling ammunition, but continue to sell just as before the order was issued.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The Rev. R.F. Sweet, rector of Trinity Episcopal Parish, left for the East to visit his boyhood home in Boston before attending the general convention of the Episcopal Church in New York.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Dr. E.A. Anderson was named to succeed Dr. E.L. Kerns as head physician of the Modern Woodmen of America, and moved to Rock Island from Holdingford, Minn.
1939 -- 75 years ago: One week late, because of the outbreak of war, Dr. E.L. Beyer resumed his work as professor of romance languages at Augustana College. Dr. and Mrs. Beyer left Germany on the last train to the Belgian border.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Employees in Turnstyle stores in Moline and Davenport will vote Oct. 2 in an election set up by the Chicago regional office of the National Labor Relations Board. Employees will vote either for the Retail Clerk International or for no union.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Rock Island High School is considering a step to help teen moms stay in school and get their diploma. The school board is expected to vote tonight on instituting an on-site child care center.


(More History)