“Who he is in the classroom doesn't have to be who he is on the football field, and I think that helps him balance his day.”
The key for Merideth is his desire to teach, whether on the field or in the classroom.
“A kid is having trouble with something you might feel is fairly simple, and you say, ‘OK, I've got to help this kid get to this point,'” Merideth said. “It might seem like a simple step. But you just want to help those kids take that next step in their lives. Maybe it's reading or writing, something that a lot of us take for granted. But for them, that's pretty important.
“That's the moment that you've forgotten about football or all the paperwork, and you focus on that kid, because that's something that's important for life. And those moments happen daily.”
Merideth gives credit to Breck Hall — a man he hasn't seen in more than 15 years — for helping him find his passion to teach special education.
Hall was a senior on the football team at Northeastern State when Merideth was a freshman. Merideth knew he wanted to coach, but had no idea what teaching field to pursue, until Hall recommended special education.
“I observed a classroom for a couple days and thought it was pretty neat,” he said. “The more I was around it, the more I enjoyed it. I got more satisfaction out of it than being in other classrooms.”
Merideth and Moore began co-teaching together five years ago.
“To be honest, I was apprehensive at first,” Moore said. “My husband used to be a coach, so I know how time-consuming that is, and I wondered, is he going to have time for everything this job involves?
“But he's very good with kids, and he just jumps right in. I think the kids realize how much he cares about them. They see him in a whole different light than the football players do.”
At the same time, Merideth has qualities that benefit him in both areas.
“He has a good balance,” Edmond Memorial principal Debbie Bendick said. “He's really sensitive and perceptive. In football, you have to read a lot of silent dialogue. You have to look and interpret. And the same is true with our special-needs kids. You have to be able to watch them and figure out their issues and how to serve them better.”
There are days when Merideth thinks it would be nice to be out of the classroom, like so many coaches are now, affording him the opportunity to focus more on football and preparing his team.
But right now, the importance he finds in the classroom is too great to give up.
“It can be busy and it can be hectic during football season,” he said. “It was difficult at first, but I've grown to love it. I wouldn't have it any other way. Each day, you get something out of it.
“It keeps me centered, keeps me focused on what's really important in life.”