World geography and P.E. teacher surfs daily to deal with stress

October 12, 2016 — by Julia Miller

Teacher takes break from school through surfing. 

World Geography and P.E. teacher Richard Ellis feels the ocean rolling beneath him as he waits upon his surfboard for a big wave to catch.

With a day of teaching behind him, Ellis can’t wait to clear his head by riding one of Santa Cruz’s ocean waves, which has transformed into one of his top priorities since his move to Santa Cruz in 1997.

Ellis starts each day in his Santa Cruz home, first waking up his children and dropping them off at their respective schools. Afterwards, Ellis makes the hour-commute to SHS on Highway 17.

“This gives me time to have a big cup of coffee, listen to the radio and get caught up on the news of the day,” Ellis said.

Depending on the day, Ellis arrives at school at different times and immediately begins prepping for his classes. Ellis teaches P.E. periods 5 and 7, World Geography periods 2 and 4, and band P.E. period 6.

Ellis enjoys teaching both subjects because they incorporate two of his passions: social studies and coaching.  

“I like discussing current events and tying them into what we are covering in class,” Ellis said. “I like being physical as well, being outside and helping students acquire the skills necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

Freshman Rohan Rao, one of Ellis’s World Geography students, enjoys the analogies Ellis ties between school and current events.

“Because we’re learning about South Asia right now, Mr. Ellis relates the culture and government to scenarios that could be in our school,” Rao said. “It makes the class more interesting for me.”

Not only does Ellis teach students, he also enjoys coaching his youngest son, 10, and his flag football team after work in Santa Cruz. And, if there’s no practice to coach and the tide is just right, Ellis will  run down to the ocean to surf.

Surfing has developed into Ellis’s stress reliever ever since he learned how to as a kid in Southern California.  

“I am fortunate to live very close to the water, which means I can run down to the beach and get in quickly, “ Ellis said. “Being close to the ocean, preferably in it, is a stress reliever for me. It is good for my head, [and I’ve made] it a priority in my life.”


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