Jonathan Clark is hardly your typical Grade 8 science teacher. Although he’s been teaching in California for several years, it’s not his lesson plans that are going viral.
The teacher from Clovis North Educational Center in Fresno, Calif., actually moonlights as a professional basketball dunker and his videos on Instagram have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.
Some even show him flipping and dunking over his students, while other clips show tricks usually reserved for NBA players.
“It’s kind of a win-win for me in a sense because I do what I enjoy and the kids really get a kick out of it,” he told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview.
Clark use to keep his dunking life under wraps because he didn’t want to distract his students.
“But throughout this year, I’ve just been focused on building rapport with the kids and I kind of saw it [dunking] helped with them ‘buying’ into class,” he said. “And it was an opportunity to show my personality -- show my human side.”
“The kids really gravitated towards it and made class more fun … so as long as we were taking care of work definitely will oblige them and have fun in class [too],” he said.
Clark explains that during normal school days he focuses on classes, marking and homework but when he hangs up a detachable net in his classroom, that signals he’s feeling up for dunking.
“On days where we just finished taking a quiz or … we have some free time, when the hoop’s up they kind of know it’s a more relaxed situation,” he said.
But Clark is occasionally tapped to perform backflips at school pep rallies.
Clark wants to eventually become a principal
Back when he was finishing college, he thought his life would be in athletics. He’d done track and field in school and even competed for a spot on the U.S. Olympic basketball team in 2012.
When that didn’t work out, he tried making a career out of his love for dunking.
“But that [wouldn’t] pay the bills long term,” he admitted, adding he even tore his ACL in 2014. “And that lit a fire under me that I’m not superhuman.”
He decided to become a collegiate coach and went back to school to get a master’s degree in kinesiology. But to help pay for the bills, he took up substitute teaching.
“Then I fell in love with the school system … and enjoyed coming to class and seeing students,” he said. “It was just something I knew I wanted to do.”
That’s when he applied to get his formal teaching credentials.
When he’s not teaching and not slamming dunks, he actually has used his talents to be a motion capture actor for video game studios Electronic Arts and 2K.
But you won’t end up seeing his face. That’s because video game developers take his movements he makes in a motion capture suit and they overlay the faces of real players.
“So when I’m playing the game and LeBron James … does a specific dunk that is distinct to my style of movement I can tell and say, ‘oh yeah, that’s my dunk’” he laughed.
As for his future aspirations, he doesn’t want to end up in the NBA but says he wants to be an elementary school principal.
“I think that would be the coolest job ever,” he said. “Whenever I see the principal walking around, when I see the kids looking at him … it’s someone they respect.”View this post on Instagram
JUST USING MY PASSION TO ELEVATE REALITIES!! . . Tuesday I spoke to the young African American students of Fresno and at lunch I preformed a dunk show. To watch the full mix go to @dunkademics YouTube #TheJUMPER #DoTheIMPOSSIBLE �� @dunkademics �� @hireztherapper ft. @imanshumpertView this post on Instagram
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