“It has been a good gig, a heckuva ride!”
The “gig” and “ride” Mike Faber is referring to is the 27 years he has been in the classroom or gymnasium as a teacher.
“There are a lot of ups and downs, but way more ups than downs.”
But now, as the “ride” for Faber comes to a close at the end of this school year, he will definitely be hoping for a long stream of “ups” in the next chapter of his life–retirement.
Faber has been teaching in Cut Bank for the past 21 years and before that taught in Eureka for six years.
“I taught both middle school and high school PE and history in Eureka,” he said. “I began in Cut Bank as the H.C. Davis PE teacher in the old gym. I did that for two years until a middle school history job opened up. I quickly jumped on that. I taught for several years in the middle school, then moved to the high school to teach history for about 16 years. This year, I moved back to the middle school to teach PE and Native American history.”
Teaching in the gym and classroom have been his focus, but he also put a lot of energy into coaching.
“In Eureka, I helped coach wrestling, football and track and in Cut Bank, I helped coach middle school football for a couple years and coached wrestlers of all ages for 15 years.”
Coaching kids came first for Faber and in his words, “It is kind of backwards how I fell in love with teaching. I wanted to coach kids so I earned a teaching degree. It didn’t take long for me to feel comfortable with teaching and fell in love with the job. Then I weaned myself off coaching so I had more time for teaching.”
He continued, “Initially I became addicted to coaching kids, developing their work ethics and watching them improve. The main goal was to help them become good citizens with a strong work ethic. I took that philosophy to the classroom. That, to me, has been the most important part of educating kids. I hope that I have helped kids with that.”
Faber did a little math for himself, not his students, the other day and realized that approximately 3,000 students have been in and out of his classrooms through his 27-year career.
“It kinda made me sit back and reflect. Wow! I sure hope I have helped those kids in one way or another. I have been so lucky, too. There have been so many amazing kids in my life. Many of them still contact me and are good friends of mine now. I’m just lucky. And there are students I have right now who I am going to miss and I want them to know that I am not giving up on them, I am just moving on to a new chapter in my life. But I am going to keep an eye on them and check on them once in a while,” he shared.
In almost three decades of teaching, Faber has seen a number of changes, most of them being in the world of technology. But according to his observation, “the kids have not changed much over the years. Sounds crazy, I know, but they really haven’t. The world has changed so much. Kids have a lot on their plates these days, much more difficult and complex lifestyles than I had. The cruelty of social media, for example. They have a lot more distractions as well. The gaming era. That hasn’t helped teachers much, but I guess gaming has kept more kids off the streets. One of the biggest changes has been my hair color,” he joked.
But now it is time for the biggest change for Faber, retirement.
“I am excited to move on in life. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. Almost 30 years of the daily routine. Changing that will be weird, maybe not, I don’t know.”
He does know he will be spending time working on the family ranch, located 30 miles east of Big Sandy. He will be setting his own hours in each day and has plans to devote more time to family.
“Hopefully steal that grandson more,” he said smiling. He also plans on “working odd jobs, so give me a call if you need a worker. I plan on staying busy.”
As another phase of Faber’s life beckons, he knows for sure there is much he will miss about the teaching life he has been devoted to for last 27 years.
“I really am going to miss most of the kids. That interaction with them. Joking around with them too. Watching them mature, hopefully, mentally and emotionally. Yeah, gonna miss those things.”
On top of that, he added, “I am going to miss my colleagues. I have been so fortunate to have worked with, and learned from, good teachers around me, especially this year. The morale here has been so good this year at the high school and middle school. We have a good leader now in Mrs. Hofstad who has made some needed positive changes. I want to thank her and the rest of the staff for a great ‘last year’ and for all of the support.”
He concluded,” This community has been so good to me and supportive too. I would also like to encourage youngsters to pursue a career in education, if that is a dream of theirs. It is so rewarding.”