They say life imitates art, but it doesn’t always work that way.

For instance, in the 2011 film Warrior, lead character Brendan Conlon was suspended from his teaching job when his bosses found out he was a mixed martial arts fighter on the side.

Conlon couldn’t continue to influence the young people in his school because fighting was just too taboo for the school and the students.

In the case of Bellator middleweight Brian Rogers, who is also a teacher when he’s not fighting, his school system has done nothing but support his “other” career.

“The whole school really supports me. I work for the Leap program and we have schools in Kent, Ohio, my hometown, Garfield Heights, one in Wooster, and one in Green, and actually I’m fortunate cause I get two mornings off a week to train and they let me come in on a half day so I can train and do my thing. The school really supports me,” Rogers told MMAWeekly Radio recently.

“I’m lucky where some guys get put into the position where they have to quit their day job or they have to work another type of job to make their dreams happen. Fortunately, my employers at the Leap program, they support me 100-percent.”

It’s a nice feeling for Rogers who loves teaching his students, but also loves to compete among the best fighters in the world in Bellator.

The Ohio native says that his fellow teachers have supported him in droves, traveling to his fights, and coming out to root him on as he lives his dream to be the best professional fighter he can be.

“Half of our staff comes out to the fights,” Rogers said. “When I fought in Strikeforce last year, I want to say about seven of them came down to the fights and bought lower level seats.”

When he is in his day job, Rogers teaches elementary and junior high level students and of course the word about his other profession spread like wildfire because gossip is like junk food around the lunch table.

In the beginning, Rogers admits it was tough to explain to the kids what he did when so many didn’t understand mixed martial arts as anything more than just fighting or even professional wrestling.

Over time, however, as MMA has come to prominence, Rogers says the kids now all understand what it is he does, and they support him all the way.

“It shows you how big mixed martial arts has gotten cause two-and-a-half years ago when I first started, they thought I was a professional wrestler. In our rec room we have posters and stuff and the kids would say ‘you can’t beat up John Cena, Mr. Brian’ and I’d laugh. But then as I was closer to cutting weight I’d say stuff like ‘I’d wreck him,’” Rogers said jokingly.

“Now that the sport’s grown, they understand so much. They’re like ‘no, Mr. Brian does MMA. He does that UFC stuff.’ It’s funny how even in a few years, and kids’ age difference, they now get it.”

And Rogers gets it as well.

He loves being an influence for young kids as a teacher and educator, and then when the final bell rings at three o’clock, he heads to the gym to pursue his other dream… becoming the new Bellator middleweight champion.

Follow @DamonMartin on Twitter or e-mail Damon Martin.
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