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Chris Bauer recalls his parents teaching him that whatever he does should be done right and he should leave things a little better than when he arrived.
The Central Hardin High School assistant principal and athletic director takes that philosophy seriously and tries to instill that attitude in his students.
“I want the spirit of ‘We need to thank and give back to the community that has done so much for us,’” said Bauer, 42.
To that end, Bauer has organized fundraisers such as Tackle Breast Cancer during the football season and Slam Dunk Cancer during the basketball season. The events benefit charitable organizations such as the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association.
The football fundraiser this year is called “One Goal: End Breast Cancer.”
When he organized the first event he had no personal connection to the cause. Since then his sister-in-law was diagnosed with and is battling cancer, he said.
Almost everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer, Bauer said.
The Slam Dunk Cancer event came about when a student approached him because of a family member with cancer. This year’s event will focus on fundraising for the Addison Jo Blair Foundation.
“I kind of like to spread it around because there are so many valuable charities,” he said.
Such events, Bauer said, get students involved.
“Young people like to be a part of something,” he said.
Bauer also initiated a reading program among Central Hardin High School athletes who visit area elementary schools to show students they can wear jerseys and still do well in school. Sometimes athletes read to small groups, sometimes they engage in one-on-one interaction and sometimes they work with special needs children, Bauer said.
Whenever possible, he said, he tries to get student athletes back to the elementary schools they attended and even tries to get them back in the classroom of former teachers.
“It’s kind of a little ... validity to their work,” he said, adding it’s also validity to the students’ parents.
Also an active member of the athletic committee at St. James Catholic Regional School, where his 5-year-old son is in preschool, Bauer has devoted a large part of his life to sports.
“Before we were married six years ago, Chris devoted much of his time to coaching football and track and field,” said his wife, Sarah Bauer. “He is also responsible for starting the Hardin County Youth Football program.”
Additionally, she said, her husband proposed and secured sanctioned bowling for Hardin County high schools.
At St. James School, Bauer became a room parent this school year, something he had never done. But his son’s room needed someone to fill the role, and another parent helped him.
“There was a room full of room moms and then there was me,” he said.
As part of his role, he embarked on a project to decorate a terra cotta flower pot for an auction. It had the theme, “St. James Pre-School Spirit: Deep as the Ocean Blue” and featured student hand prints transformed into sea creatures such as lobsters and crabs.
Bauer credits help from others in getting the project done.
Such involvement is not new to Bauer. Starting at CHHS in 1992 as a football coach, he began teaching in the fall of 1994.
Being able to interact with students and see their smiles of appreciation means a lot to Bauer.
When he became assistant principal six years ago, that changed somewhat.
“It’s a different kind of work,” he said.
He missed the classroom.
“That was really hard the first year,” he said. “I was struggling to find my worth. When I was teaching I knew my worth.”
These days Bauer realizes he has opportunities to help different groups of students in different ways, and he has specific goals.
“One big thing for me is I want my boys and girls athletics to be on the same footing,” he said, citing equal facilities and equipment as examples.
The most rewarding part of his job, he said, is pretty simple.
“You can tell by their smiles ... they appreciate you being there,” Bauer said.
Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A ROSTER OF FACTS ABOUT CHRIS BAUER: