At the end of this school year, Paul Schilling, a teacher and coach icon for Cut Bank Schools, will be resigning his position, leaving a 32-year teaching career in Cut Bank. He is not leaving teaching or coaching for good, not quite yet. But rather, he has decided to embark on a new challenge.
At the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, Schilling will be a Conrad Cowboy, putting his Wolves gear aside, "for the time being," he said. "I will be teaching middle school history in Conrad and will also be the head football coach for the high school there."
Schilling is going to live in Conrad, "but Cut Bank will always be home to me," he shared. "Even when I coached in Shelby, I lived in Cut Bank and felt like Cut Bank was still my home. This is going to be a big change for me, but I hope to create some good memories in Conrad and enjoy my time there."
Schilling was born and raised in Cut Bank and spent most of his life as a Wolf. "I went to a few other places and worked and lived and even coached football in a few other places. But I have always considered myself a Cut Bank Wolf, even when I was in other places."
For his first 13 years of teaching, Schilling was a sixth-grade teacher in Cut Bank. "Then I started teaching Montana and American History in the middle school and have been doing that ever since. I like that age group of kids," he said.
Schilling was not exactly sure he wanted to be a teacher right out of high school. It was, however, something that was in his blood. "My mom, Doreen, was a teacher, so was my uncle and, as I found out, it is my passion too."
For Schilling, teaching is all about molding the kids and hoping "I can be an inspiration to them and be someone they can look up to. One of my biggest joys of teaching is when the kids come back after graduation and stop in and see you or text you and tell you about something you did for them while they were a student. That has touched me so much and so many times. I have had teachers that have done that for me and it was always something I hoped I could make happen when I became a teacher."
During his teaching career of 30-plus years, you could also find Schilling coaching for a majority of those years. He has coached football, basketball and tennis and now, with the new job in Conrad, will find himself back on the football field as the head coach for the Conrad Cowboys.
"I love coaching the kids. As coaches, we really care about the kids that we coach. They mean so much to me," he admitted. "But I have also been blessed with an amazing number of other people in my coaching career who have been mentors and friends. There have been so many awesome people in my life whether in my teaching career or coaching careers. Obviously in 32 years, there are so many special friends and kids that you simply cannot list them all. What a privilege my career has been."
Schilling's teaching life made an impression on his son, Austin, who, like his dad has become a teacher. This fall, Austin will be teaching K-12 Physical Education classes in Hobson, Mont. His youngest daughter, Alex, is in Missoula and works for Watson Children's Shelter, which is an interim place for kids that have been abused, neglected or are a part of a family in the midst of a crisis. "Kind of a teaching place for her too," he said. Schilling's oldest son, Casey, is in Butte and is an engineer.
There is no doubt that Schilling’s three decades of teaching and coaching have created many memories. It also has left some lasting impressions on his students, players and friends.