Bollig announces retirement
(Friday, Feb. 12, 2016)
Article by Gracie Johnson / Video by Calen Schuckman
Bollig explained why he started teaching.
“I wondered why I started teaching myself. I enjoy being around kids and the interaction. What I really like is the energy. The students have more energy than I do now. I mean, you could just feed off of that. It’s a neat feeling.
“One summer when I was still in college I signed up to be a camp counselor in New Jersey, and it was quite the experience being around kids. I wanted to go to the East Coast, and it was a good opportunity to be around young people and have a job in New Jersey. Then, after 12 years in private industry, I finally decided with the economy like it is, be a teacher, so I went back to school and got my certification,” he said.
However, Bollig has not always been in the classroom.
“Pay wise, I had several good paying jobs with an oil service company. I had a company car, an expense account, but the economy back in the late ‘80s devastated the oil industry and a lot of people went into different jobs besides petroleum, and I was one of those people.
“But, I had a really good job. All of the benefits of the job included travel, and I was like a regional lab person and oversaw different districts. It was a good job, and I learned a lot dealing with people in the scientific aspects of problem solving,” he said.
Bollig compared the similarities between the business world and teaching.
“The company I worked for was for profit. That was the bottom line. In teaching, it’s more open-ended. You go with the flow. Your product is students. You can’t quantify their behavior. You can’t quantify their intelligence. It’s just completely different,” he said.
There were many reasons why Bollig was drawn to the teaching profession.
“I enjoy science. I always have. I think growing up in the sixties and late fifties, the space program and the moon race with the Russians, that was all in force. We were still in the Cold War, and I just like science. My brother migrated toward science, and my sister kind of did for a while. He just liked science. I don’t think it was our high school experience. It was just the world around us,” he said.
His first teaching assignment was at Logan High School in Northwest Kansas. He taught there for two years.
“It was a little high school. How is it different than Silver Lake High School? I think diversity, and we had one thought process. That was very alternate conservative. It was a fun community, and they talked about farm stuff. If you were a farm person, you’d fit in. I was a farm person, but it was just too tight of an environment,” he said.
Bollig was originally drawn to USD 372 by the atmosphere.
“I began teaching here in ‘92. When I signed my contract, Larry Winter was so accommodating in the community, accepting me, and I think it was just a neat school system. It’s become neater throughout the years. It’s a joy to teach here. It really is,” he said.
Bollig explained what he learned from teaching.
“The biggest thing I have learned from teaching is be patient. I’m not a patient guy. That’s what I learned from teaching is that kids have different aptitudes of learning, and I’ve learned to be more accepting,” he said.
During Bollig’s many years of teaching, he said he has gained many memories that he still cherishes today.
“Bumping into students after they graduate and reminiscing. I think that’s what I really enjoy about teaching. To see how these former students, who were kind of squirly, have matured and become responsible citizens,” he said.
Not only does he enjoy visiting with former students, he also enjoys the interaction with the students now.
“My favorite thing about my job is the interaction with the kids. I like to tease them in a gentle fashion. I mean just finding out about their lives outside of high school. I think everybody has some experience with this. I’m just surrounded by neat kids that will eventually become neat adults,” he said.
There are some downsides to teaching as well.
“My least favorite part about teaching is grading and all teachers will say this. I do not like to grade papers, and then everybody says, ‘Don’t assign so much work.’ I think homework has it’s advantages. It reinforces concepts that you learned in class. It also teaches discipline and responsibility,” he said.
Bollig said Winter not only hired him, but he also inspired him.
“Larry Winter kind of really made the connection between my teacher training and the expectations in real life. He was a good example to follow. I did learn quite a bit from him. Just being a teacher and all the options that go with it,” he said.
The students are certainly the people who Bollig said he will miss the most.
“I like the energy of the kids. I think I feed off of that and just the interaction with the students. I can’t explain it. It’s a neat experience. It makes you want to come back,” he said.
Bollig shared the many plans for his post-retirement.
“Number one is I want some time for myself. I’ll play with the grandkids. I want to play the piano. I want to dedicate one hour a day or maybe less to learning the accordion since I bought an accordion years ago,” he said.
Bollig shared that technology has been the biggest change in education.
“The big thing starts with a ‘T.’ It’s technology. I haven’t kept up with the times. After the invention with the mouse, technology gets lost. I was okay with the floppy discs until the invention of the mouse,” he said.
Teachers teach students, but students can also teach teachers. Bollig explained what students have taught him.
“They have taught me to be more accepting. I think everybody knows the material since I covered it and some kids just don’t get it. Sometimes I’m driven to expect the best from students. Even students who don’t give me their best, but I want them to try. Most kids do. That’s my expectation. I guess that is what they have taught me is to be more accepting of each, individual student and their abilities.
“I will miss all the kids here, and I will miss teaching at Silver Lake,” he said.