By Martie Thompson
Chad Cushnir has been the TV production instructor at Atlantic Coast High School for the past two school years and he is well qualified — previously he was a sports multimedia journalist at First Coast News. In this position, which he started after graduating from Florida State University with a degree in Communications and Sports Management, he worked both behind the camera as well as in front of it as a reporter and anchor.
Although he was born in New Jersey, Cushnir moved to Jacksonville when he was five years old. He grew up in Mandarin and attended Loretto Elementary School, where his wife, Erin, now teaches first grade. He graduated from Middleburg High School despite living in Duval County because his father worked at the school and he accompanied his dad to work.
The Cushnirs have been married for nine years and are parents to three children between the ages of 10 months and kindergarten.
- Who or what inspired you to become a sportscaster?
I’ve always been a sports fan. Even as a little kid, I always loved getting to know the players on my favorite teams, which are the Florida State Seminoles and then the Jaguars. My Uncle Carl used to give me impromptu trivia quizzes, so I would say he greatly helped me increase my sports knowledge. Also, I was a fan of the local television sportscasters growing up, especially Dan Hicken, who I ended up working for.
2) Who or what inspired you to become a teacher at Atlantic Coast?
My father was a long time guidance counselor, so he definitely inspired me, along with my wife who is a teacher. Also, Mark Robert, a former multimedia journalist at First Coast News. I actually took his job when he moved on to become a media production teacher at the high school level. He’s now at Fleming Island High School. At my previous job with the television station, I would see students at games with their cameras covering the action. I tried to keep up with who the media teachers at the various schools were and their programs. I had my eye on Atlantic Coast High School ever since it opened. I was fortunate that former head football coach Kevin Sullivan, whom I knew from my previous job, was kind enough to call me and let me know when this position opened up so I could try to set up an interview.
3) What is your favorite part of being a teacher?
Definitely interacting with the students. I like to get to know them … where they work, what sports they play, which college they want to attend. I like to keep up with the students even after they graduate and I like to try to give advice if needed and help steer them in the right direction.
4) What is the most challenging part of your job?
Keeping the students interested and engaged every day. Teenagers have good days and bad days every day. I try to keep them involved and learning each day.
5) If you could be a Superhero, which one would it be and why?
I’d say Batman, because when Gotham City needed him, they shined the light and he saved the day. I like the idea of being called up to help when needed.
Photo courtesy Chad Cushnir