The New Guy in Town: Andrew Skari
September 19, 2012 by Caitlin Rogers
After making the switch from social studies teacher to athletic director, Andrew Skari is ready to take on TJ’s athletics.
For TJ’s new Athletic Director Andrew Skari, sports aren’t just a way to keep in shape or earn gym credits; in his eyes, they provide lifelong lessons, valuable social skills, and help kids find their true identities.
Two years ago, Social Studies Teacher Andrew Skari was asked to become the Athletic Director for Bruce Randolph School, a 6th through 12th grade Denver Public School. This year, he’s taken the job as Assistant Principal and Athletic Director here at TJ in place of the previous director, Lani Nobles. After a couple of months on the job, Skari says, “It’s been a bit of a whirlwind, the speed of the game, I think. I knew it was going to be an adjustment, so I’ve been adjusting to more kids, more coaches, more sports…I’m learning to do things more efficiently.” There is certainly a big size difference between the two schools. In the 2009-2010 school year at Bruce Randolph High School there was a total of 387 students who were enrolled, according to a DPS Exemplary Schools Case Study, whereas at TJ there were 1078 students enrolled for the same school year. That’s almost three times more studentsSkari to look out for, but he doesn’t seem daunted. “It’s been phenomenal getting to meet new coaches and new kids,” he said.
Before switching to his administrative role, he was a social studies teacher for three years at Bruce Randolph. In fact, he says he might have still been a teacher there if a twist of fate hadn’t pushed him up into the director’s position. “I never actually was looking to leave the classroom…an opportunity came up and they asked me to do it, and the rest is history,” remarks Skari. Though he might have the role of Athletic Director, he says he’s still a social studies teacher at heart. He remarks that if he didn’t have his current job, “I’d still be a social studies teacher. I love teaching U.S. History.”
In high school, Skari says he was an athletic kid. He tagged along to his sister’s volleyball practices, and claims, “I was more into volleyball than basketball, and we didn’t have volleyball in high school, not boys’ volleyball,” says Skari who played recreational basketball with his friends instead of playing on the school team, which he said was “unusual.” In high school, he played on the football and baseball teams. Skari attributes this love of sports for carrying him into his life at Bruce Randolph, where he was the head baseball coach and, of course, the Athletic Director.
As they are with Skari, sports can be a lifetime interest, or they can just be fun new things to try out. However fleeting, a connection to sports has been proven to do many positive things for kids and teens, both physically and mentally. A study done by the International Development Through Sport showed that over four years, from 2007 to 2011, sports contributed to a higher self-esteem and self-efficacy in underprivileged children, and a higher amount of empowerment in women. Skari shares this view, saying, “It’s been shown that kids who do participate in extracurricular activities have better grades, higher GPAs, higher graduation rates, less behavior issues, better attendance, and, to be honest, besides all that, I really believe that (in) athletics you learn about yourself, you develop character, you develop your values, like hard work, discipline, and teamwork. All those things are invaluable when it comes to being a successful adult.”
When students play any kind of sport, they develop the skills they need to be successful both in college and in their lives as adults. Now, many kids’ dreams have been to go to college and get an education beyond high school, and many more jobs have been demanding that higher education experience. When high school students play sports, they can get numerous athletic scholarships, which enable them to go to colleges they might not have been able to afford, and they get the chance to continue growing as a person and an athlete. Skari says he intends to help all the athletes who want to continue playing in college, and those who simply want to get in to some kind of higher education. “I want to hopefully send as many student athletes off to college – hopefully as athletes at the next level – but I want them all to be able to go on to post-secondary education,” he said. Numerous programs here at TJ are already helping with these goals, with options ranging from ACT prep to the Future Center, which helps students find and apply for colleges.
After working here at TJ for a couple of months now, Skari says he is starting to get used to the pace of his job, and he’s ready to start making Spartan history. “To be a part of that tradition and history here, and to hopefully write a new chapter to that is exciting, it’s exhilarating,” he says. “I’m excited to come here every day.”