Working double time

Teachers Brad Wymer, Robert Crawford, and AJ Leman talk about how their summer businesses were built up and then torn down by the pandemic.


Creative Commons images used with permission.

Some West teachers have taken to working second jobs to supplement income or to pursue a passion in their non-teaching hours.

When the pandemic started, businesses were shut down, schools went online, and people stayed home. Over the summer, things opened back up and businesses came back with new policies in place. Three teachers were a part of this reopening, with each of their businesses being affected in different ways.

Brad Wymer, a science teacher at West High, runs his own painting company. Wymer grew up in a small farm town, with not many open jobs besides farming for high school sophomores. “Every spring the farms would hire kids to pick up rocks,” Wymer said.

One summer, he noticed a house across the street desperately in need of a new paint job, and thus, his business was born. The job provided extra money and something to do in the summer other than a farm job. Since high school, Wymer has been repainting homes, paving success for his business.

COVID-19 has dampened much business, but since Wymer’s business deals with exterior painting, many customers felt safe minimizing business losses. “I do exterior painting, so the people were not afraid of extra people around their house,” Wymer said.

Robert Crawford, a science teacher at City High, teaches a spin class at Top Shape Gym, otherwise known as indoor cycling. Crawford used to live in Seattle, using his free time to bike in the more open trails. When he moved to Iowa City, the amount he biked was cut short because of the in-climate weather, and the lack of readily available biking trails.

To fix this, he went to local gyms to cycle. The indoor cycles were much easier to do on a regular basis. That is where he encountered his love for personal training and decided to become one himself. He talked to the spin class teachers about becoming a personal trainer, and that he should take courses to become certified. He then took online classes to become certified.

Once he was certified he began teaching spin classes, which he has been doing since 2006. The classes are mostly during the summer, but during the school year, he still teaches two days a week. When the pandemic hit, his classes were shut down for three months. When the classes reopened, the number of participants was cut from the original 30 down to ten to adjust to social distancing policies.

AJ Leman, a business teacher at City High, runs Longfellow Apartments. “It started by accident, I was trying to sell my house when I was moving,” Leman said. His neighbor bought half the duplex, marking the first sale for his company. By renting out more apartments his business grew to over 100 units.

“I think people should have multiple streams of revenue,” Leman said. When the pandemic hit, he had to adapt to the reality of rent being more difficult for people to pay. He had to become more lenient when it came to rent checks coming in, but this did not affect his business all that much.