Kids, don't try this at school.

Jarrett "Jazz" and Ryan Sommers, brothers who both grew up to be Twin Cities high school science teachers, bring some mischief and chuckles to the end of every school year. Students flip through their freshly minted yearbooks and find their way to the staff photos, searching for the surprise:

What did Sommers dress up as this time?

Jazz and Ryan have been adorning themselves in outlandish costumes for their official school portraits for about 15 years. A one-eyed pirate with a parrot perched on the shoulder. An affable cowboy tipping his hat. A sad mime. Fur Coat Ken.

The photos are weird, unpredictable and goofy. These are quite possibly the same adjectives that students might use to describe the Sommers brothers.

"We're both pretty personality-forward in the classroom," says Jazz, who says the yearbook tradition fits in line with his overall philosophy of being approachable and kind to his students. "They don't have to like you to teach, but it's so much easier if they do. This is one piece of a larger picture, which is making sure all students feel welcome."

Jazz teaches chemistry and physical science at Lakeville South. Ryan, younger by just 18 months, teaches biology and anatomy/physiology at Armstrong in Plymouth. Both have been in the profession for about two decades.

In 2009, Ryan wondered how far could he push the boundaries of the annual yearbook photo. When the shutter clicked, he decided to simply roll his eyes upward, as if he were looking at the person above him (think: "The Brady Bunch" sitcom opening).

Over time, the costumes grew more over-the-top. Wigs, makeup and feather boas were all fair game. The year that he painted his face white and dressed up like a mime, the yearbook photographer refused to take his picture.

"No, I'm not doing this," she said at the time, insisting that Ryan needed the principal's approval. So Ryan called the school's secretary, who pretended to be the principal and vouched for him. (To be fair, though, the principal would have said yes, too.)

So far, their bosses haven't given them any flak for their outrageous once-a-year outfits. Ryan usually assembles his look by shopping the Halloween stores in the fall. And Jazz finds his pieces by rummaging his school's theater department costume closet.

Frivolity aside, the teaching profession is in crisis, as some experts have warned. National surveys report that teachers are feeling higher levels of stress and lower morale since the pandemic. Across Minnesota, most districts are seeing teacher shortages. A third of new teachers in the state are leaving the profession within their first five years.

Adding to the stress, Lakeville teachers were engaged in tense contract negotiations — even authorizing a strike for the first time — before reaching an agreement with administrators last week. "The last five years have been challenging," Jazz says.

But the kids, he says, the kids are always great. Studies have shown that students who have deep relationships with their teachers are more likely to learn and succeed academically.

"Both Jazz and I are relationship-heavy people," says Ryan, who also coaches ninth grade football. "We don't get the typical behavioral problems in our classrooms that you might see with others. My daily goal is to do the best I can in those 48 minutes in my room with the kids."

The brothers didn't always know they'd grow up to be teachers. But they credit compassionate, personable teachers during their time at Apple Valley High School for helping them see their path in education. One of their favorites, former history teacher Don Perkins, was known to make Hüsker Dü mix tapes for his students.

And now they're thick in the world of education. Their younger brother, Kyle, teaches at an elementary school in Colorado. Jazz married a teacher, and so did Ryan. (Sara Sommers teaches at Prior Lake High School, and Amy Sommers teaches at Minnetonka High.)

How did all three Sommers boys end up being teachers? They say they have loving and supportive parents, including one very funny dad. Whenever they performed at school choir concerts and other events, their dad would shout, "That's my boy!" Decades later, when Jazz became a teacher and had his first parent-teacher conference, his parents showed up. His dad made a fuss and screamed the same tagline: "That's my boy!"

As the school year comes to a close, Ryan feels those same pangs of pride toward his students.

"A kid asked me today, 'Sommers, why are you a teacher?' he says.

He told the student it's not for the piles of money to be made in teaching. It's not even for the summers off. "To see you come in as a squirrelly ninth grader and leave as a human being, it's been great," Ryan said. "I have enjoyed watching you grow up."