Bartlett teaches second grade, coaches high school football for Chicago Public Schools — and maintains a passion for hunting bucks in his free time.
McDonagh, Bartlett and the other Condors coaches have led Curie (9-1) to the second round of the IHSA Class 8A playoffs, where they'll face suburban power New Trier (9-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday. Last week, Curie won its first playoff game in 19 attempts with a 46-6 triumph over Taft.
Justin Breen says Bartlett had him laughing throughout their interview, thanks to plenty of curse words:
For Bartlett, the playoff win was another feather in a football cap that includes a 10-game stint with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1988 after he was drafted in the fourth round by the Los Angeles Rams in 1987. Injuries ended his career soon after, and after a few years of working as a drug and alcohol prevention counselor, he decided to refocus his passion for football into teaching elementary students.
He's been a teacher at Washington Irving Elementary on the Near West Side — working with preschool, first-grade and now second-grade kids — for the last 20 years.
"There's a lot of energy in the classroom. I feel really fortunate being able to work with so many young people," said Bartlett, who also starred at Northern Illinois University and was named to that school's All-Time Huskie Stadium Team.
"Being in the classroom is a real treat for me," added Bartlett, of southwest suburban Brookfield. "You have to give kids hope that good things will happen."
He follows the same philosophy as a coach — but he uses much more colorful language.
"I really like working with younger kids, and this is how I get my fix working with older kids," said Bartlett, who has a 23-year-old daughter and 20-year-old son. "And we're not going to work with kids who are chumps. We don't come out here and bull---- around."
McDonagh, a Gordon Tech graduate and Norwood Park resident, said Bartlett certainly doesn't curse when talking to the Irving second-graders.
"I've been in his classroom. He's got a great routine with the kids," said McDonagh, who first coached with Bartlett at Chicago Hope Academy. "I have a son who's 8 and a daughter who's 6, and he's met them and certainly knows how to connect with kids and talk down to that level."
His time at Irving hasn't been all fun and games. He was dealt a four-day unpaid suspension by school officials in 2011 for bringing various tools, including a pocketknife and boxcutter, into his classroom. He showed the tools — screwdrivers and pliers — to the students as part of what he called a "tool discussion" in his curriculum.
"I refused to let them cubbyhole me as an irresponsible, knife-wielding teacher because ... I'm one of the safest, most conscientiousness people in the building," Bartlett said. "I will not let a bunch of chumps make me look like a bad guy. But they're laying off me now."
Bartlett unwinds from city life on his 230-acre farm near Downstate Macomb, where he conducts frequent deer-hunting excursions. McDonagh said Bartlett would be an ideal high school head coach, but believes he's found a good balance between teaching, coaching and hunting.
Win or lose Saturday, Bartlett plans to make the several-hour trek across the state to his farm to spend the rest of the weekend looking for trophy deer.
"You've got to really loosen up when you get away from work," he said.
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