Longtime teacher says 'Celebrate every day'

By: 
Marlys Good

After 37 years teaching (22 of those at Greybull High School)  and 32 years of coaching a variety of sports, Jim Prather will be clearing out his desk, turning in his “keys to the kingdom,” and walking into retirement at the end of the school year.

“I guess I was destined for a career in education,” Prather said, “but a better description is a life in education since teaching and coaching has been my adult life. It is all I know, and I came to it naturally. Both of my parents were in education, my father was a high school teacher/coach and my mother was in the early childhood field.”

Prather said he grew up surrounded by teachers and coaches. “They were the nicest, most involved people I knew. They were passionate about what they did. I could see the  difference they made in the lives of my friends and myself. Plus, I loved the competitive nature of athletics and wanted to be around sports in some capacity

He graduated from Western Washington University in 1983 with degrees in history and education. For 15 years he taught and coached in Washington state at various grade levels.

He and wife Michelle decided it was time to try a different part of the world. “So when Jordan (their son) hit middle school we decided it was now or never.” The three ended up in Greybull for the 1999-2000 year. It’s been home for them ever since.

He has had good rapport with his students. His philosophy is that “Kids are kids; they want to learn; they hunger for expectations; they want consequences. I tried to provide that. You can’t let the kids down.”

He tried to keep his students engaged. That means making changes when lessons don’t work as well as you thought they would; he has been challenged by “students I didn’t know if I could reach.” 

But it has all been worth it. “If I got a please or a thank you at the end of a class, I was good for six months.”

Has there ever been a time he wished he had chosen another profession?

“Every day,” he admitted, “but I mean that in a good way. Just celebrate every day.”

What comes after almost four decades in education?

“Maybe hanging out on the beach in January – watching the grandkids play soccer. It will be nice to do what we want, where we want, anytime we want.”

With property in Colorado as well as in Greybull, “We’ll see what the markets are. It’s nice to have a home base and we’re thankful we have options.”

In conclusion, Prather said, ”It’s been a wonderful 22 years in Wyoming.” And looking back at his 37 years in education, he said, “It has been the life I sought those many years ago.”