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MIHS"s two Mr. Laugharys - Clay joins his brother Creighton as a teacher

By Katherine Sather

At Mercer Island High School this fall, there are two Mr. Laugharys in the halls.

At least one student is finding it hard to get anything past the blue-eyed brothers.

Just after last period last week, new math instructor Clay Laughary was stopped by a spikey-haired boy who wanted his cell phone back. The boy launched into a plea for Clay to overlook school policy on taking away phones that interrupt class -- just once -- but was stopped short as the other Mr. Laughary approached.

``Didn't I already give you a warning about that phone?'' asked Clay's brother, Creighton.

Creighton, an English teacher, is a veteran on the high school staff. His brother joined the faculty this fall, and students find it a novelty, he says. They want to know who's the oldest (Crieghton) and why they don't look alike (Clay has brown hair and Creighton is blond). Some students have classes from both.

``I think a few students are finding it harder to get away with things,'' Creighton said.

The brothers grew up in Spokane, Wash., in a family of six children. They were only a year apart, and attended high school together at Shadle Park, where they both played football and wrestled. They recall a picture in their high school year book of them both sporting goatees dyed green to show their school spirit.

After graduation, their paths split.

Clay, a 30-year-old Newcastle resident, attended Wabash College in Indiana and went on to get his master's at Arizona State in 1998.

He's always been the louder, more boisterous brother, he says. He began his career teaching math in Tempe, Ariz., and moved back to the Puget Sound area five years ago to teach at Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, a private all-girls school in Bellevue.

``I'm adjusting to the larger classes again,'' he said. ``Creighton set a really good example for me here. People gave me the benefit of the doubt.''

Both he and his brother are starting their eighth year of teaching this fall.

Creighton, 31, went to school at Seattle University and earned a master's degree in 1998. His first teaching job was at Gig Harbor High School. He is beginning his sixth year at the high school and was hired as the new wrestling coach this fall.

``I think Clay's jumped in and gained the respect of his peers,'' Creighton said.

Though their mother was a teacher, neither considered careers in education until late in college. Creighton was first a science major and Clay has a minor in art. They picked opposite ends of the teaching spectrum -- math and English.

``I work to have students build their confidence in math, because its something that's always shaky,'' said Clay.

Creighton, tries to help his English students learn to make their own decisions about literature and filter out bias from other sources.

``After they have good ideas they came up with themselves, then the task is to help them communicate well,'' he said.

Clay spends much of his spare time playing bridge. He coached the bridge team, chess club and tennis team at Forest Ridge High School. Board games are a family hobby, he says.

``Crieghton always wins in Scrabble,'' Clay said.

``It's about a draw in chess,'' said his brother.

Their family is a tight-knit group, they say. Two of their siblings went on to join the ministry.

``We like to say we've got two teachers and two preachers,'' Creighton said.

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