It’s impossible not to think, “His parents must be so proud of him,” after even a brief conversation with Jesse Patrick.
He graduated from Carolina Forest High School in 2013 with cross country and track and field accolades, went to Anderson University, and started teaching and coaching at CFHS in January 2017.
He teaches foundations of algebra to freshmen who struggle with math, and teaches probability and statistics to juniors and seniors.
He’s also the head boys cross country coach and the director of track and field.
And he credits his mother, Diane, with his successes on the field, in the classroom, and in his life.
He wants his students to leave him knowing math. And he wants the athletes he coaches to be good at their sport.
But more than that, he wants the kids he comes in contact with to know they can do it – whatever “it” happens to be for them.
In college, he took a class working with students with special needs, and says he “liked that cross-over of math with students with special needs.
“I wanted to work with students who struggle with learning instead of working with the gifted and talented ones,” he says.
The youngest of three, the 24-year-old Myrtle Beach resident says it’s the sacrifices his mother made for him and his siblings that make him the teacher, and the man, he is.
“My successes are because of my Mom and the way she raised me,” he says. “That’s what drives me every day to fight for those kids and make sure they meet their potential.
“There were days when she skipped a meal so we’d have enough to eat. I grew up with a single parent in a two-bedroom house in Pittsburgh [Pennsylvania] and I am by no means coming from a wealthy upbringing.
“But,” he adds, “My parents supported me in my decisions as long as they were healthy decisions.
“I try to make sure my students know where I came from so they can see a positive influence, and know they can get out of a bad situation if they’re in one.
“Sometimes a kid just needs someone to believe in them. For one reason or another, so many people think they’re worthless, and that’s not OK.
“Many of these kids come from great families, but they’re in tough situations,” he says.
Patrick’s mother owned Pillows & More, and is now retired and living in Myrtle Beach.
His dad worked for the Department of Mental Health when Patrick was growing up.
The educator started racking up cross-country accolades when he was just a freshman.
In ninth grade, he held the freshman record for 5K – 17:58. He was a runner for the region-winning team and a competitor in the state meet.
In 10th grade, he was a runner for the region-winning team and a competitor in the state meet.
As a junior, he was the MVP, a runner for the region-winning team, a Top 20 finisher at the lower state meet and a competitor in the state meet.
As a CFHS senior, he was MVP, a runner for the region-winning team, a Top 10 finisher at the lower state meet and a competitor in the state meet.
In track and field, when he was an eighth grader, he was the only middle school runner on the boys varsity team.
In ninth grade, he was a region competitor and a state qualifier competitor.
In 10th grade, he was a region competitor and a state qualifier competitor. He got an academic award for the highest GPA on the team and set a school record in the 4 X 1600m relay.
In 11th grade, he was the MVP, was a region competitor and region champion and state qualifier competitor, and was in the top 15 finishers at the state qualifier meet in the 1600m.
And as a CFHS senior, he was the MVP, a region competitor, a region champion and state qualifier competitor, and 9th place finisher at the state qualifier meet in the 1600m.
As a coach, Patrick’s team earned a second-place finish for boys cross country at county and region championships in his first year of coaching.
His team also took first place for boys cross country at county and region championships in his second year of coaching.
He coached multiple state qualifiers in his first year, and in his second year of coaching, his team qualified for the state meet in cross-country. He coached multiple region championships in track and field as well.
He coached the girls region track championship team two years in a row and his teams earned multiple school records in his second year of coaching.
“Fantastic is a good word to describe him,” JJ Iagulli, who coached Patrick at CFHS, says about him.
“He’s very kind, very compassionate, very outgoing.
“He was a hard worker as an athlete, he was diligent, and he was concerned beyond himself.”
A sport such as track and field is what Iagulli calls “individually-based,” but says even as a student, Patrick “wasn’t just concerned about his personal performance.
“He was an encourager and was interested in what the jumpers or throwers or sprinters did.
“He was a good teammate,” Iagulli, who was head coach over the track and field program when Patrick was involved, says.
Running, Patrick says, taught him discipline and dedication.
“It takes a lot of work to become good at running, and it’s not easy work,” he says. “It’s miles and miles and hours and hours just to get yourself to the next level.
“Once I realized I had potential, my parents supported me and that was one of the biggest things I had when I was growing up – parental support.”
Patrick wanted to come back and teach and coach at CFHS because of the teachers and coaches there who influenced his life.
“I knew I had a place with them,” he says.
Concerned his previous teachers might still think of him as a kid, he says that never happened. “I’ve always been treated as a peer.”
While he likes the beach and likes being outside, Patrick doesn’t have a whole lot of time for much beyond teaching and coaching.
There are only four weeks in the year when he isn’t coaching, because cross-country training goes from June to mid-November and track and field goes from mid-December to mid-May.
A committed Christian, Patrick does make time to attend The Rock Church.
“When I see the level of love and sacrifice in what Jesus did for us…I only hope I can match a portion of that and be a light to these kids,” he says.
“Then, they can go be a light for someone else.”