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Eye of the storm

Jason Seaman finds himself learning to live in the spotlight

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Eye of the storm

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Being called a hero by Captain America himself could give a lot of people a pretty big head—but not Jason Seaman.

     After wrestling a firearm out of his 13-year-old student’s grasp on the morning of May 25, 2018, Seaman, the Noblesville West Middle School science teacher who made national headlines for his actions, quickly became more than just a local hero. From his hospital room, Seaman spent the days after the event quietly watching the world buzz around him. However, despite receiving praise from his entire community, to Chris Evans, and even the President of the United States, Seaman’s humble nature remains unwavering.

     I am definitely still not cool,” Seaman said. “I’m just a regular guy. I mean, it’s cool to be recognized, but people are supposed to support each other. We make a big deal about it when it should be the norm.”

     Fellow NWMS science teacher Emily Crapnell claims she first recognized his humbleness when she sat in on his initial job interview, during which she noted his compassion.

     “The selling point on his interview was that he

volunteered at the Humane Society with his wife, and I thought that really showed his character,” Crapnell said.

     Most recently, Seaman was once again the subject of praise when on December 8th, he was awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash, the highest honor an Indiana citizen can earn.

     “Receiving an award from the governor of any state is a pretty big deal, so to receive an award of that magnitude just compounded that sense of pride,” Seaman said. “Because I still don’t feel like I did anything special. So the fact that [his action] is still garnering that much attention just blows my mind still.”

     Even today, it seems that Seaman is the only person who doesn’t see himself as a hero. Rather than heroic, he sees his actions that day as necessary.

     “When it comes down to it, down to the nitty gritty, I had two options: I could do something, which is what I did, or I  could just stand there and die,” Seaman said. “Something had to be done and I was the one that needed to do it. Because heaven forbid I didn’t do that, there’d be a lot of teary-eyed parents and these holidays would be really tough for a lot of people.”

    Seaman’s modesty can be seen in every aspect of his life. At school, co-workers such as Principal Stacey Swan claim he never boasts about his accomplishments, usually not even mentioning them unless someone else does first.

     “He’s absolutely telling the truth when he says being in the spotlight is not his thing,” Swan said. “He doesn’t want any more recognition than what is coming his way.”

     Even so, Swan doesn’t let Seaman’s integrity go unnoticed. For Swan, a particular moment that defined Seaman’s character happened after an incident when an adult in the building had been unprofessionally disrespectful to one of Seaman’s football players.

     “[Seaman] was noticeably upset,” Swan said. “I could tell he was the defender of his kids–he’s passionate about their treatment and kindness.”

     So passionate that anytime the well-being of kids is involved, Seaman finds himself biting his tongue, despite his calm nature.

     “When someone’s mean to kids, it just irks me,” Seaman said. “Kids have so little life experience that even if they are mature for their age, they haven’t had time to figure stuff out yet.”

     Even with the recognition he receives, Seaman admits to maintaining a low profile in the school.

     “Yeah, I probably keep [Swan] in the dark about more than I should, which is my way of doing things, I guess,” Seaman said. “I’m just a believer that people should do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.”

     According to Seaman, doing the right thing includes being honest, so Seaman believes admitting when he’s wrong is a vital step in personal growth.

     “I know I do the right thing most of the time,” Seaman said. “But I’m not perfect, I make mistakes, I screw up. But I try to not act over emotionally or irrationally.”

     Seaman’s desire to protect and positively impact children comes naturally to him.

     “As a parent, my goal is to teach my kids to be the best they can be. And as a teacher, I also take other people’s kids under my wing,” Seaman said. “If I want to make the world a better place and make a positive impact, I have to do it for myself, my kids, and for everyone else. It’s a ‘bigger picture’ type of mentality.”

     Seaman has always strived to honorably represent himself, but he had no clue how profoundly he had affected various people throughout his life until after May 25.

      “You don’t realize your reach until you’re forced to recognize it. When [the shooting] happened, a lot of people came out of the woodwork. They’ve always had nice things to say,” Seaman said. “It just makes me realize that the way I try to present myself is being noticed and that my impact is positive.”

     Seaman’s philosophy of always acting on the behalf of the greater good is at the forefront of most everything he does. Outside of academic objectives, he uses his role as a teacher to establish similar goodwill in his students.

     “I am just trying to put that furthermore into the kids that I teach, because I don’t know how they’re going to impact the world,” Seaman said. “Hopefully it’s positively and it’s profoundly, but if I can be a little stepping stone in that development, then that’s what I’m trying to do.”

     Swan says she has come to appreciate his skills and attitude as an educator in particular.

     “I think he is a very relatable teacher, the kids like him,” Swan said. “He makes science fun for his students, but still has high expectations.”

     Three years ago, education became more than a job for Seaman. After his son was born, teaching became Seaman’s permanent role as he hopes to establish in his children the same values he teaches in the classroom, through both the silly and serious moments.

     “[My son has] got a potty mouth. He loves to run around saying ‘poopy’ and ‘butt’ and stuff like that at just all the wrong times,” Seaman said. “But we’re trying to teach him right from wrong.”

     However, in light of everything he’s been through, Seaman anticipates future dilemmas he’ll face when discussing the shooting with his son.

     “To be honest,” Seaman said. “I wrestle back and forth—do I even tell him? I know he’ll grow up and see the scars and he’ll ask about them, and I’ll tell him then. But it’s like, do I bring it up now or do I let it come up? How do I handle that?”

     Seaman claims that even now, he’s never been one to live in fear, but he recognizes the lasting effect something so drastic as what happened on May 25th can have.

     “I don’t want to talk to [my son] about me getting shot in school when he still has to go to school,” Seaman said. “I don’t know how to handle that when the time comes.”

     Seaman says family is certainly the most important thing in his life. Although hardship almost always forces you to re-evaluate what you cherish the most, the shooting didn’t change much for Seaman.

     “I’ve always taken time to appreciate the little things, and I guess I would do that more now,” Seaman said. “But it’s not like I suddenly had this epiphany that I have to start valuing my relationships.”

     One of the ways the constant recognition and a busier schedule has affected his personal life, though, is the little things Seaman never knew he cherished so dearly.

    “What’s usually the headache or the struggle of the day, you find yourself missing,” Seaman said. “Like, my son loves bath time, he’ll stay in until the water is cold. So, it’s pulling teeth to get him out and dressed and to actually go to bed. But that’s kind of a fun battle we do each night.”

     Even on the relaxing nights he spends in quiet hotel rooms, Seaman longs for the luxury of being bothered by his kids.

     “Waking up in the morning, even though you got more sleep, is not a good switch,” Seaman said. “I’d rather be there, seeing them first thing in the morning.”

     However, after leaves home, Seaman still has to face the reality of making a good day out of the same classroom so much fear came from. Surprisingly, maintaining such positivity doesn’t seem too difficult for him.

     “[People usually] think of what was and it makes them sad. I think of what it is now and that’s why I keep coming back,” Seaman said. “I’ve been teaching for seven years now, and I can count bad days on just a couple of hands, that being an exceptionally bad day—but I’ve got thousands of good ones. And the bad doesn’t outweigh all the good.”

     Being so close to the incident and the events that followed has also made it easier for Seaman to internally process everything.

     “I think I actually have the advantage in that department,” Seaman said. “I was in the room, so I don’t have the uncertainty that a lot of people have. I don’t ‘What if?’ the situation, and that’s something I know people do, especially the ones who don’t have control.”

     The community around Noblesville West Middle School has displayed unity and strength, but Seaman believes that uncertainty regarding the exact events of the shooting is the cause of many remaining fears. However, Seaman hopes to make others realize that with any situation, a positive outlook can allow for new beginnings.

     “There’s always the fear of the unknown, and some people embrace it, and it’s not a fear, and some people hold onto it, and it is a fear,” Seaman said. “When it’s a negative experience, people tend to hold onto the feeling they had in that experience. But you gotta let go. Because whatever you do now isn’t going to change what happened then. So you might as well let go of it and try to grow as a person.”

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