Lifelong friends carry on their SHS legacy


Photo contributed by Daniel Jones

Daniel Jones (left) and Brent Bockelman (Right) pose with a group of friends for a picture in high school. The two were friends through out high school and both ended up teaching at SHS.

After graduating, could you ever imagine coming back to that same school for work? Lifelong friends, English teacher Brent Bockelman and Social Studies teacher Daniel Jones, couldn’t imagine it themselves  after graduating from SHS in 2001.

About 250 employees in Perry Township graduated from PMHS or SHS. What led each of them back to their school is different, but both Bockelman and Jones agree that the sense of community that is felt within the school is something that makes SHS a great place to be at.

“Everywhere I go on the Southside I bump into somebody,” Bockelman said. “…I think that’s cool.”

Originally, Bockelman wasn’t planning on becoming a teacher, he was planning on doing something within the business world. However, after having a conversation with one of his friends about not liking the classes he was taking, he tried out some education classes and really enjoyed them.

After graduating college with an education degree and starting his job search, Bockelman didn’t feel like he absolutely had to come back to SHS, but after he was offered an available position in the English department, Bockelman took it and has been happy with his choice of coming back to SHS for work ever since because of the sense of community within the school.

For Jones, that’s not the case. After graduating from SHS the same year that Bockelman did, Jones went to Purdue to get his teaching degree. After student teaching at the middle school for Mrs. Moore during her maternity leave, he thought that he would get that job but that didn’t happen, disappointing him and causing him to question himself. However, when looking back on it now, Jones says that it is “the best thing that ever happened to (his) career.”

While questioning himself after not receiving the job, Jones started a career in valet parking which quickly took off. He was offered a job to go to Pittsburgh and continue to do valet because he was doing such a good job here in Indianapolis. While looking back on his life, Jones says when making the decision he thought to himself if doing valet was something he actually wanted to do, but eventually changed his mind that it wasn’t. He wanted to be a teacher and felt like teaching was something he was meant to do during his life.

Jones dreams of becoming a teacher finally became a reality, after learning about an open position in the Social Studies department while coaching baseball. Jones has been at SHS ever since.

“Now I get to go back and I get to pour into young people’s lives,” Jones said. “The very same thing that people were doing to me.”

Jones and Bockelman not only grew up together in Perry Township but are now coworkers. As Jones describes it, they were both good friends while growing up and it’s pretty cool to him that they’re using their different strengths and influences in the community they grew up in.

After coaching together for at least 10 years, playing baseball together since they were kids and now having conversations about how they both have some similar students, Bockelman and Jones decided to work cross curriculum after the testing for the AP exams ended. In Bockelman’s freshman GT class, for example, they read the book “Fast Food Nation.” Then, Jones’s psychology class does experiments regarding what they learned in that book.

“For us to do those things together,” Jones said. “It’s really cool.”

The sense of community within SHS is a strong one.  When both Bockelman and Jones started teaching at SHS there were still some of their past teachers here. Bockelman says that he has also come to appreciate running into past and present students when going to places in town such as the grocery store.

As for Jones, he feels truly blessed to be able to work in Perry Township. He enjoys being able to have students and then have all of their siblings because it makes him feel like he not only knows them but also knows their family.

“There is not one sense of entitlement about where I’m at,” Jones said. “I’m so blessed to be in this position.”