Eighth-grade Math Teacher Jaye Andrews’ Life Before Greenhill

Remi Joseph, Staff Writer

Many know Jaye Andrews as an eighth-grade math teacher at Greenhill, but his life before coming to Greenhill took him on a journey through college basketball in the United States and professional basketball in Europe.

When he was eight, Andrews would practice basketball with a hoop on the side of his house. He would play make-believe by himself, imitating duels between star players of the time such as Walt Frazier and Jerry West.

Even after Andrews started high school at Landon School in Maryland, his passion for basketball only continued to grow. Andrews liked that basketball was a team game and that each player needed to contribute to help the team succeed. He wanted to go to Bucknell University to play basketball, and during his senior year, his dream became a reality: He was recruited to play for their Division I basketball team.

Andrews was an All-American (honorable mention) player in his senior year at Bucknell University, a college several of Andrews’ high school classmates had attended as student-athletes.

Although Andrews was a Christy Mathewson Outstanding Senior Athlete in the 1984-1985 season and was inducted into the Bucknell Hall of Fame in 1991, basketball was not the only thing he gained from Bucknell. There, he met a supportive coach, some good friends and his wife Andrea.

 

From NBA to USBL to Europe

Andrews was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers in the seventh round of the 1985 NBA draft.

Andrews believes he was discovered by the 76ers when they saw him play for the nearby Wildwood Aces from New Jersey in the United States Basketball League the summer before he was drafted. He found it difficult to distinguish himself from the other draftees and free agents and was released after rookie-free agent camp.

A year later, while living and working in Chicago, he got a call from the general manager of the Bracknell franchise of the National Basketball League of England. He thought it was a prank call from one of his friends and did not realize it was real until there actually was, as promised, a plane ticket at the British Airways terminal of Chicago O’Hare International Airport with his name on it.

He played for the Bracknell Pirates in the National Basketball League of England for the 1986-1987 season.

Andrews loved playing in Europe. Andrews and his teammates would practice in the late afternoon. Even though basketball in England was not very popular compared to cricket and soccer, though the fans who did follow the sport were very passionate and it was easy for them to have access and get to know the teams.

There were a couple of families who took an interest in Andrews and who often invited him over for home-cooked meals.

During his time in England, Andrews lived with a teammate in a two-bedroom apartment. Their team paid his rent and lent him a car. Andrews had to learn how to drive there since no lessons were given. He explored London often.

On the side, Andrews also wrote a player’s column about his team for the local newspaper. It was called “A Daily Dose of Andrews.” That is a big joke in England because a dose of Andrews is what you could take for an upset stomach.

Eventually, though, Andrews decided to quit his career in basketball and pursue something new.

“I decided it would be my final season as I saw my friends from college already launched in their business and other professional careers,” Andrews said. “I worried about getting a late start in my non-basketball career. I regret that a bit and wish I had played a few more years.”

 

Getting to Greenhill

Andrews and his wife were interested in moving to Texas in 2001 to be closer to his wife’s parents. Andrews’ educational background in business gave him the appropriate qualifications to be a middle school Algebra I math teacher.

In the late 1980s, Andrews became an assistant basketball coach to Former Greenhill Head of School Scott Griggs and shortly thereafter also started teaching math to Middle School students.

“I knew I was home professionally that first year in the classroom, twenty-nine years ago,” Andrews said.

Head of Middle School Susan Palmer says that Andrews meets all expectations of a math teacher and connects concepts to the real world. She says he is an early adopter of technology and gives his students a lot of responsibility.

Palmer says that he never loses sight of Greenhill’s core values of excellence, compassion, integrity and courage.

“He helps kids be the best versions of themselves,” Palmer said.

 

Equity and Inclusion Work

After coaching basketball at Greenhill for 13 years, Andrews was looking for other ways to contribute to the Greenhill community. He started to attend Greenhill’s Office of Equity and Inclusion’s meetings before getting invited to be one of two Equity and Inclusion (E&I) coordinators in the middle school two years ago. Palmer says he is a great representative for the Office of Equity and Inclusion.

Andrews says he wished someone had encouraged him more as a kid to read good books, especially ones more honest about America’s history of racial terror and oppression.

The COVID-19 pandemic, the death of George Floyd and last summer’s racial justice protests opened the eyes of many Americans to the trials Black people face in the U.S.

Andrews, like many Americans, was deeply touched by last year’s events.

“It impacted me in that I sensed that the catalyzing incidents and national unrest that followed seemed to awaken white people to the scope and reality of racial inequity in our country such that a climate for real changes now exists.  Dismantling systemic structures that perpetuate racism is a monumental task though, and I hope that the pandemic has not chipped away at the will to follow through,” he said.

“My goal is to support and promote policies and programming that lead us towards becoming an anti-racist school,” Andrews added.

Andrews says he hopes his work at Greenhill as an E&I coordinator will allow Greenhill to have even more diversity.

“E&I work is challenging and complex,” Andrews added. “I am still very much a work in progress in bringing a high degree of competence to my E&I work for the school.  I try to stay humble, be fully open to growth and be ready to contribute meaningfully.”