After two decades working in banking and wealth management, Jim Eustice was facing a crossroads in his career.
“My partner and I in our wealth management firm were going to split up,” Eustice said. “I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do or even if I wanted to stay in it. My wife said to me, ‘You’ve always loved coaching. Did you ever think about teaching?’”
After taking the required classes and tests to become certified, Eustice ended up in a new career he loves, teaching math and business at St. Bede Academy, where he’s also served as head football coach since 2015.
“After 20 years in that [financial] world, I was at the point where I didn’t want to get out of bed and go to work in the morning,” Eustice said. “After my wife asked if I ever thought about teaching, I got into subbing. Being there, I thought, ‘This is what I really enjoy doing is helping young people.’ To be able to do it full time all day is special. I’m making a heck of a lot less money than I was, but money isn’t necessarily everything all the time.
“It’s been eight years now, and I still can’t wait to get there every day. I enjoy it that much. You have to be happy with what you’re doing in life. I just love doing what I’m doing.
“I have no regrets at all.”
Eustice eased into teaching first by subbing full time, including serving as a sub for multiple maternity leaves, while he took 30 hours of senior-level match courses through the University of Phoenix.
After that, he passed the state content test and enrolled in a master’s program at National Louis University in Lisle that helped him get his teaching license.
Eustice started part time at St. Bede teaching geometry.
He moved to full time after a couple of years and now teaches geometry, transitional math, accounting and economics.
“I had several math maternity leaves, so I got my feet wet doing some things where I wasn’t just a sub. I was trying to do some teaching and learning,” said Eustice, who graduated from Southeast Missouri State in 1990 with a major in finance and minors in accounting and math. “When I started at St. Bede in the fall of 2013, I was part time. It was nice because I wasn’t too overwhelmed.”
Eustice said he has been able to draw on his experiences in the business world as a teacher, especially in his accounting and economics classes, and said his many years coaching football also helped his transition to the classroom.
“Whether you’re teaching on the field or teaching in the classroom, you have to be able to connect with the kids and be able to get them to understand what you’re trying to teach,” Eustice said. “I’ve always had the philosophy to make the kid feel comfortable and not afraid to talk or make mistakes. It’s OK to make mistakes. It’s how quickly you learn from them that’s key.”
Eustice said being a full-time teacher at the school where he’s coaching has made him a better football coach as well.
He said he’s connected with his players better at St. Bede than he did while the head coach at Marquette from 2005 to 2009, where he was working in finance and not arriving at the school until 3 p.m. for practice.
“I know the kids a lot better than I did the first time around as a head coach,” said Eustice, who also serves as an assistant baseball coach at St. Bede. “[As a teacher], you get to know the whole kid a lot better. There are things I learn in the classroom where I can use that experience to get them to learn something on the football field so it sticks with them.”
Eustice has led the Bruins to a 32-32 record and two postseason berths in seven seasons as head coach, including a combined 13-4 record and a Class 1A second-round playoff appearance in the two 2021 seasons.