If Jaelen Feeney is nervous, he isn’t showing it.
Standing in front of a packed room of school children at Hunter Sports High, you could easily forgive Feeney for caving in under the pressure.
As tough as playing 80 minutes of footy is, looking after a group of school children takes the meaning of tough to a whole new level.
It’s a fact backed up when Feeney first walks into the room and is faced with a bunch of boisterous kids.
At this point, it would be quite easy for the Knights’ NYC star to walk away shivering in his boots at the prospect of containing a classroom of enthusiastic youngsters.
But the gifted playmaker keeps his cool. In fact, he is comfortable. In his element.
Just like he does on the footy field every weekend from halfback, Feeney takes centre stage and steers the classroom around.
“Jaelen just has a presence with the children,” enthuses Lehetta Lane-Porter, the Community Liaison Officer at the school.
“They look up to him and want to impress him, so when he speaks they keep quiet and always listen.”
Welcome to Feeney’s world of teaching.
As part of his position as a Learning Support Officer (LSH) at Hunter Sports High, the 19-year-old spends four days a week working with a group of Indigenous Year 8 students.
From helping with assignments through to making sure student's get along with their teachers, Feeney plays an integral role at the school.
"My job is in-class support and help, so helping the kids through anything they need," Feeney explains.
"I did similar work when I was working at Bankstown Public School when I was at the Bulldogs last year, but that was more taking kids out of class and working with them one-on-one.
"So when I came to Newcastle, I wanted to continue that type of work.
"I haven't worked in a high school, so I thought would be a good learning curve and great to get some more knowledge.
"It's a bit different, but it's more rewarding because you are making a difference in that crucial part of their lives."
Feeney credits his passion for teaching to his father Dean, who is the Indigenous Liaison Officer with the NRL.
Feeney senior has worked in schools and with a range of PCYC's over the years and always encouraged Jaelen to follow the path of education and community.
"The old man regularly organises events, like touch footy days, so he definitely influenced me a lot to work with kids," he says.
"He has given me heaps of knowledge and he is always showing me more things.
"I enjoy working with kids and just to be able to help them, it's an enjoyable job and I have fun doing it.
"As long as the kids are getting something out of it, because I get a lot out of it as well."
Talk to Hunter Sports High Community Liaison Officer Lane-Porter and Feeney is certainly making a difference at the school.
"Jaelen has been great," she beams.
"He interacts with the kids very well because he is a lot younger and they really correlate with him. And actually being a footballer, a lot of the kids really adapt to him and want to ask him all the questions.
"They also rip him when the Knights get beat and things like that, but he does an unbelievable job here."
It's a positive feeling that's well and truly replicated by Feeney, who couldn't think of a better occupation than turning up to school and putting smiles on young people's faces.
"I wake up and I look forward to coming into work," he grins.
"Then I leave here and go straight to training and I'm happy.
"It's just a good balance."
A balance that helps make Feeney not only a better player, but more importantly a better person.