Great State: Oklahoma Teacher Turns Lunch Time Fishing Escape Into After School Class

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- Just to be straight, it is after school at Heritage Hall Academy.

Regular classes are finished for the day, but that doesnt' mean Director of College Counseling Marshall Gray still can't take a some time to dip a hook in the pond behind the upper school, especially if he brings a group of students who want to do the same.

"It's a skill but it's not hard," Gray explains. "Anyone can learn to fish with very little effort."

This Fishing 101 program might not eve be in place if Marshall's boss hadn't caught him fishing through his lunch hours over the summer.

He didn't exactly punish Gray but the administration thought Marshall could keep fishing if he had company in the form of students who wanted to learn how.

"You know, getting to see kids put a worm on a hook or seeing them confident enough to fish..."

At this point of the interview the tip of Marshall's pole bends suddenly.

A pond visitor asks if there might be a fish on his line.

"Yes," he responds. "I've got one on."

Gray pulls a nice bass off his hook and throws it back before casting again.

Marshall actually cemented his reputation as master angler when he reeled in a 5 pound bass on the first day of class.

"The very first day I came out here I caught a 5 pounder."

After school activities are required for students at this private school.

Most kids choose a sport.

Others choose something academic.

Ford Shelton and Robert Tyrell think fishing is the most relaxing choice.

"Yeah," says Ford.

"And we don't have to run like we do in basketball," adds Robert.

The pond on school property also happens to be a pretty good spot to fish.

Vyas Venkataramen nearly always catches something.

"A fish or two a day," he says.

While we were there shooting another student, Zach Frye, caught 12 small fish, a new class record.

"You caught another one?" asks Gray incredulously.

The students still have a lot to learn; how to fish top water with buzz bait, that fish blood on your hands can't make you sick.

"Can you catch fish AIDS?" asks Zach after removing a hook from the mouth of a Perch.

Gray pauses.

"No," he replies.

Also, he taught them how not to accidentally hook a snake.

There are to big accomplishments that teacher Gray can add to his string of education 'catches'.

He made fishing cool, and he managed to actually make it part of his job.

As he dismisses, Marshall says, "Thank you. It was a good day. I'm pleased."

The Fishing 101 class began in the fall term.

Gray has a small budget for worms and tackle.

He thought 3 or 4 students would enroll, but Gray hooked 11.

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