There are more than 300 staff members around Rockwood School District who were Rockwood students during their K-12 years. "Then and Now" is a series that highlights some of their stories and what has made Rockwood special to them as both students and educators. Allie Gentry, physical education, Bowles and Eureka elementaries; and Luke Gentry, social studies, Eureka High Rockwood Schools Attended: Woerther Elementary
, Pond Elementary
, Wildwood Middle
, Eureka HighGrades Attended in Rockwood:
The first time Allie and Luke Gentry entered the halls of Eureka High School, they did so in baby carriers toted by their parents, Amy and Mark.
Amy has been an elementary school physical education teacher in the district since 1991, starting at Ellisville
and working for the past 25 years at Woerther. Mark has worked at Pond Elementary since 1992 – 16 years as a third-grade teacher and the past 12 teaching PE – and has coached wrestling at Eureka all 28 years.
After the birth of the twins, Allie and Luke, in the spring of 1994, their parents didn't waste much time getting them acquainted with Rockwood School District.
"We grew up in it. We've always known Rockwood," Luke said. "It's never not been a part of our lives, so it's really helped shape our core values, a lot of who we are today."
Allie and Luke are both in their second year teaching in Rockwood. Luke started at Marquette High
last year before moving to his alma mater, Eureka High, to teach social studies this year. Allie is a traveling PE teacher at Bowles and Eureka elementaries this year after splitting her time between Geggie
, Green Pines
elementaries last year.
They had their mom as a PE teacher in kindergarten. They saw their dad every day in the hallways at Pond.
Guess what the twins dressed up as whenever there was a career day in elementary school.
"Every day was 'Bring Your Kids to Work' day for me. It was awesome," Mark said. "Employees of the district take their jobs personally. It becomes family to them. They've treated our kids like they were their own. There's so much security, affirmation and love that goes out to your kids. When you see it as parents, other people investing in your kids, that means the world to you."
The twins were both standout athletes at Eureka. Allie was an integral part of the school's first girls state championship soccer team in 2013. Luke played football and was an all-state wrestler under his father's tutelage, even though Mark says he had to take a step back every now and then.
"Even if he wasn't in the corner, he always watched," Amy said. "He wouldn't let Luke see, but he'd always be somewhere hiding."
Now, Luke coaches the outside linebackers for Eureka's football team. Allie and fellow alumna Tara Lester coach the Wildcats' girls wrestling team, which started last year.
"It was just seeing the positive influence my parents have made on other lives. Other kids would say, 'Your dad – or mom – was the best part of my school day,'" Allie said. "It felt right, coming back home to be a teacher."
Amy and Mark's youngest daughter, Brooke, is a senior at Eureka. She jokes with them about whether she has to become a teacher just because everyone else in the family is.
She doesn't have to. But she is seriously considering it.
"When we realized we were having influence over their career decision, we wanted to make sure it wasn't undue influence," Mark said. "You're choosing a career. You can't do it just because that's what we're doing. You've got to love what you do.
"To see ourselves replaced with our kids as we get closer to retirement, it's really a cool thing."