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Wildcat Chronicle

The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

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Humans of WEGO: Made to mentor

Josh May: the glue that keeps both environments together. He serves as a teacher and assistant during the day, and assistant swim coach by night.
SPED+teacher+and+swim+coach+Josh+May+joined+the+WEGO+staff+just+a+few+years+ago%2C+and+has+already+left+an+imprint%3A+he+is+known+for+his+fun+attitude+in+the+classroom+and+on+the+pool+deck.+%28Photo+illustration+created+by+Wildcat+Chronicle+staff+using+an+image+courtesy+of+Josh+May%29
SPED teacher and swim coach Josh May joined the WEGO staff just a few years ago, and has already left an imprint: he is known for his fun attitude in the classroom and on the pool deck. (Photo illustration created by Wildcat Chronicle staff using an image courtesy of Josh May)

May graduated in 2019 from Illinois State University with a degree in special education, and he currently works as a co-teacher/special education teacher at West Chicago Community High School. 

As a co-teacher in the classroom, May works with students on a more individual level, to provide the help that they may need. He also teaches “non-standard” special education classes that help students succeed in the adult world called “Ready A” and CWT Lab.  In his “Ready A” class, May shows students how to handle certain social situations that they are not the most comfortable with, including how to make friends for students – an important skill for those who have not been able to do so before.  Additionally, in CWT Lab, May instructs students on employment. When they do get employed he will communicate with the employer about their overall performance while working, such as their professionalism, or punctuality. 

“In a nutshell, those classes are meant to help students with their social skills, or their future job skills, too,” May said.  

Special Education teacher Josh May sits behind his computer, which is decorated with stickers representing his interests and background. (Photo courtesy of Josh May)

Yet May’s job at WEGO is not consistent: he jumps around, sometimes each year, co-teaching a variety of classes.  These classes have included English, chemistry, and currently history. In these classes, he will walk students through assignments and provide feedback on them. May will also break these assignments down so they are easier to digest for students. On very few occasions May will lead lessons. 

“So my role here is basically just to do a little bit of everything just to make sure everybody’s on the right track to be successful adults,“ May said. 

May works incredibly hard to ensure the success of his students and swimmers, and is passionate about the work he does.  

“If I have an idea in my head and I stick with it until it’s the best I can make it. I definitely stretch myself pretty thin. But it’s because I, you know, I want to do well [with] what I’m doing, you know, so, like, I drive myself a little bit crazy that I do sometimes,” May said

When the special education teacher is not in the classroom, he is standing poolside, making sure his swimmers become as fast as possible.

May is an assistant coach and mainly coaches the Junior Varsity level for the boys’ and girls’ swim teams at WCCHS. He has coached the boys for five years and the girls for three years.

However, before coaching or even teaching at WEGO, he started his swim coaching career with the Roselle Racers as an assistant coach from 2017 to 2023. While coaching for the Racers he started coaching for the West Chicago Sharks swim team which is the club team associated with WCCHS, starting in 2019. He instructs a variety of skill levels and age groups and adapts to their ability.

“I can make things on the fly like, Okay, this isn’t working, let’s just change the number here or like, let’s just do it again,” May said. 

May tries to make classroom lessons, such as this one from a Social Studies class, fun and engaging for students. (Photo courtesy of Josh May)

Josh May has a laid-back approach to coaching. He will put considerable effort into planning the sets outside of the pool so he can put as much as possible on the swimmers during the practices. Which maximizes the amount of work the swimmers can complete during the two hours he has with them. However, his laid-back attitude does not mean his swimmers can do whatever they want during practice. He will push them to get the entire workout done even if they are exhausted.

“He could be like, leisurely you know what I mean? But at the same time, he’d be like nah you got to do this [and] won’t take no for an answer,” junior Varsity swimmer Logan Malek said. 

He is very passionate about the success of his swimmers and will put substantial effort into his workouts. 

“But I think what truly sets Josh apart is he always puts his swimmers first. He always cares about his swimmers, he always cares about, you know, what they need, what they want, and he just…makes sure that they really get the most out of the season,” boys’ swimming team captain Alek Simeunovic said. 

Coach May holds up the Mike Coleman Memorial championship plaques in the fall of 2023. (Photo courtesy of Josh May)

He has two styles of coaching that he employs during practices. The aforementioned laid-back style and a hands-on style as well. He uses this style when he notices his swimmers need to improve some aspect of their swimming during practices. 

“I feel like his coaching style is very, very hands-on and that’s awesome. You know, you’ll never see Josh afraid to, you know, help the kids out really help to improve not just their technique, but just improve their strength, both in the water and out of the water when we do weights and I think that really does go a long way,” Simeunovic said. 

He loves coaching and watching his swimmers improve their times during meets. 

“Coaching swimming is more than just my job; it is also a passion. I am determined to help swimmers drop significant time, perfect their stroke, and maintain a positive attitude towards their swims and their teammates,” May said.

May did not first get involved in swimming through coaching, however. He was a swimmer himself for many years, starting at the age of 8. His swimming career started at the Itasca Park District and kept jumping from club to club, later moving to the Wheaton Swim Club.  He then swam at the Elk Grove Park District. From 2011 to 2015, he continued his high school swimming career at Lake Park High School.  

During his sophomore year of high school, he lost a lot of motivation to swim.   

“Looking back to when I was a swimmer, I definitely, by the time I was a sophomore, like really hated swimming. Because I was a swimmer who had some really good years when he was like, 11, up until 13, then it kind of…, started to slow down. And I kind of give up on myself. And, you know, that’s where I kind of, like, didn’t put much effort into my training, I just kind of…did it to do it,” May said.  

He uses his experience with burnout to empathize and help his swimmers through their slumps. 

“Looking back and thinking, wow, I really should have pushed myself more. So that’s how I approached my swimmers: I can see in their eyes if they’re having a bad day, or the practice is just hard and they don’t want to go through it. That’s why I try to make sure that I don’t give up on my swimmers the way that I gave up on myself. If things are hard, I’m gonna be like, ‘Too bad, do it. You need to. This is for you,’” May said. 

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About the Contributor
Devin Larimer
Devin Larimer, Reporter
Senior Devin Larimer is interested in pursuing a career as a pilot. If that career path does not work out, then his plan B involves majoring in journalism in college. Devin is currently in the chess club, and enjoys writing, which is why he was interested in working for the Wildcat Chronicle: he wants to improve his writing skills for school. When Devin is home, he enjoys spending time with his two cats, Hunter and Allie. Most often, though, he is busy working at Jewel Osco, and occasionally listening to his favorite artists: Half Alive and Young the Giant.
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