By Josh Beavers
At Lakeside there is a jovial fellow by the name of Martin Cole. He has no idea he is the subject of this, the last “For the Kids” feature of the 22-23 school year. I didn’t tell him he was nominated because sometimes the best of us shy away from recognition and simply say “thanks but no thanks.”
That’s the kinda guy Martin Cole is. A long time educator, first in Texas and then at Webster Junior High, Coach Cole came to Lakeside around ten years ago. Then teaching 8th graders, he immediately began to make an impact on his “kiddos” inside and outside of the classroom.
He gave his all in teaching, coaching, sponsoring organizations, organizing fundraisers, volunteering to assist other teachers, and so much more. You name it, at Lakeside, Martin Cole did it.
He didn’t know I was writing this feature when I texted him over the weekend. He was at the Gumbo Games in Monroe, on Saturday, an off day, cheering on students competing in athletic events. It was raining. It was an off day. But he was there.
I asked him: “Tell me something: why do you give so much to the kids? I mean you give your everything inside and outside school. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
He likely thought it was an insensitive question, but I was getting at something. I wanted him to let us know the why he is so “For the Kids.”
He simply replied: “I wasn’t blessed with kids of my own, so I try to give my time, energy, and love to my students.”
To which I replied: “you have a good heart.”
A good heart. That’s an understatement. And the kids and parents know it just as well as I do.
From his former student – senior Trinity Easom.
“Coach Cole is one of the greatest people I have ever met. He is always there to push you to be your absolute best and comfort you if you’re having a bad day. That man does not have a selfish bone in his body. He will do everything in his power to make sure you have the best possible chance at success. Whether he knows it or not, Coach Cole has impacted every student at Lakeside, and he has no idea how much we appreciate him.”
From Trinity’s mother – Megan Easom.
“Coach Cole is the heart and voice of reason in every LHS student and athlete at school. He is the one you can depend on to be in the stands cheering the loudest while taking pictures and telling everyone around him about ‘his kids.’ The best part…. They love him just as much. Coach Cole is the HEART of the school.”
From his former student – Malena Childers.
“Coach Cole is one of the most supportive, genuine, and loving teachers that Lakeside has. No matter the circumstance, he always makes sure he is available to help any student that needs it. I am so grateful to have had him throughout my high school career.”
And last but not least, from a fellow teacher and coach – Coach Jeff Stewart.
“Coach Cole is the epitome of a servant leader. I’ve known Marty for about 8 years. The first two years I knew him were before I started teaching at Lakeside. I was still in the Air Force when I first met him. My family and I moved to Sibley while I was stationed at Barksdale. We were looking for a wholesome community and a small school for our teenage boys. We found what we were looking for in south Webster Parish.
He continues: “After we bought our house in Sibley and got our boys settled in school at Lakeside, it wasn’t long before I started hearing about Coach Cole regularly in my house. I won’t go into specifics for the sake of time, but I knew from what I heard he was a special kind of teacher. He was a teacher that cared about and truly invested in the kids he taught and coached. A couple of years later I started teaching at Lakeside and I saw Coach Cole’s devotion first hand.
Coach Stewart goes on: “Again, I can’t go into details because it would just take too long to go over everything this guy does for our school and the students of Lakeside. He is the first to arrive, the last to leave, and I have never seen him say no when someone needs his help (students and teachers alike). I was active duty military for 25 years and I have been teaching for six…hands down he’s in my top 5. Top five people to count on when help is needed, top five people to trust, top five people to love you, top five people to teach and mentor your children, top five to have your back sitting in a fox hole in Afghanistan, Iraq, or North Korea….hands down, top five….did I mention my dad is still living and I have three grown sons who embody the traits and character my father bestowed upon me. You do the math. Coach Cole is in my top 5. This is the guy you want teaching, loving and guiding your children.”
The impact you make on the world can be found in the words others speak of you. Everyone has a calling. Trouble is fear or doubt or external forces keep many of us from answering those calls.
Luckily for countless students in Texas and in Webster Parish, Coach Martin Cole answered his call. I just hope he never hangs up.
For the Kids is a regular feature in the Webster Parish Journal. It highlights educators and other community members who go above and beyond to help our local students inside and outside of the classroom.The series will resume in the fall.