Former Hawkeye Punter Now Kickin’ it in First Grade

Former Iowa football player Andy Fenstermaker went from booting punts to grading spelling tests.

Photo from Iowa.Scout.com

Fenstermaker, a three-year letterwinner for the Hawkeyes from 2004 to 2006, is in his third year teaching first grade at Penn elementary school in North Liberty, Iowa.

The Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, native joined the Hawkeye football program as a walk-on in 2003 after transferring from Missouri Western. Fenstermaker was the Hawkeyes starting punter for two seasons and earned Honorable Mention All-Big Ten honors in 2006. He punted 105 times in his Hawkeye career, averaging 38 yards per punt and placing 40 kicks inside the opponents 20-yard-line.

During his time in Iowa City, he also developed a passion for working with kids. The former punter was a member of Big Brothers Big Sisters and eventually decided to pursue a career in elementary education.

“I wanted to have a job where you could make an impact on the future,” Fenstermaker said. “Everyone has had a teacher or mentor that has impacted them in some way shape or form. That really appealed to me.”

After graduating from the UI in 2007, Fenstermaker became a part-time third grade teacher in the Iowa City school district. He held the position for one year before being hired at his current job in North Liberty.

His time as a student-athlete played a vital role in his teaching style, he said. Being able to see firsthand how Kirk Ferentz and the rest of the Iowa coaching staff interacted and influenced young people greatly impacted the former Hawkeye.

“There’s a lot of similarities with playing sport at the college level and teaching,” Fenstermaker said. “At Iowa, the big message was that [the team] is much bigger than just one person. That’s kind of the same scenario with teaching. It takes all the support staff at school, the parents, and the teachers in order to make it a success.”

While the 27-year-old teacher educates his students about typical first grade subjects such as math, science, and history, he tries to do so in a unique way — by incorporating new technology into his daily teachings.

He’s set up a class website and blog, complete with videos, photos and links to other learning resources for his students. His class has also made it a goal to try to talk with an elementary school class from each of the 50 states via Skype as a way to a gain a greater outlook on the similarities and differences between schools, communities and states.

In addition to teaching, Fenstermaker continues to be involved in sports. He has previously coached freshman football at Iowa City West and at Iowa City City high school and currently coaches sophomore baseball at West High. He’s also helped with the Hawkeyes special teams camp every summer since he’s graduated.

Although time doesn’t permit him to coach football for the time being, Fenstermaker said he plans to be involved on the gridiron sometime in the future.

Until then, he’s content with teaching his first graders and leaving a lasting impression on the future of America.

“One of the best benefits with the age I work with is their passion and drive for learning,” he said. “Just to see those light-bulb moments when things become routine and knowing that you had a huge part in that success is really rewarding.”

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