The gymnasium at Mott-Regent was filled to capacity the afternoon of Oct. 24 with Wildfire students, faculty and local residents.
Published November 1, 2013
There were also many cameras and reporters from the two area TV stations and newspapers. The occasion wasn’t a sporting event with one of the Wildfire rivals or even an appearance by a rock star or teen idol. No, the event was much more important than any of those activities. People were gathered to honor a man who has given of himself, body and soul, as a classroom teacher for 50 years. Mr. James Glasser.
Mott-Regent High School principal Mr. Wayne Heckaman, who ironically wasn’t even born yet when Jim began his teaching career, served as Master of Ceremonies. Mr. Heckaman presented a brief synopsis of Mr. Glasser’s history in education. Glasser started teaching in Rhame in the fall of 1964 after he graduated from Dickinson State. He taught there for five years, followed by 14 years in Regent and 17 years in Washburn. After that, he retired to his hometown. Or so he thought. “The science teacher here died of cancer. They couldn’t replace him,” Glasser said. “I had just retired so they asked me.” Glasser has spent the past 14 years at Mott-Regent in a part-time role, teaching two classes in the morning before heading home.
Mr. James Glasser had teachers in high school who encouraged him to attend college and Dickinson State was nearby and they taught students to be teachers. The choice of what to do with his life was inevitable.
Glasser’s mother was a teacher for a short time before she became a mother and teaching must have been in his blood. And besides that, he didn’t really care for the farm life. He left that job up to his father and brother. Who were also at the ceremony with Glasser’s mom.
Since he began teaching, Glasser has seen many changes. Copies were made with mimeograph machines long before Xerox made the copy machine affordable for businesses and school. (Those of us who were around the classroom in the sixties remember the smell of those work sheets and tests.) He remembers when students learned to type on typewriters, not computers, and he made the transition from paper memos to email.
He accepted all of those changes. He even brought a computer into the classroom in Regent in the 1970’s. “Glasser would spend time in the morning, at noon, after school, during his free period — whatever time he had — helping students to learn something about computers because he could see … what was going to happen down the road,” said Mr. Darrel Remington, who was superintendent at the Regent High School at the same time as Glasser taught there.
Mott-Regent school board President Bill Gion, one of his former students in Regent reported that Glasser’s teaching style made his students want to learn. He made those Ions and Atoms real and not just words. “I never found it difficult to pay attention in his class because he always had the ability to flip that switch — that switch that would take you from daydreaming to being absorbed” Gion said. Bill said that Glasser taught his students how real the “center of gravity” is. The Regent boys would gather in the park to play football on Sunday afternoons. Because at that time Regent didn’t have football and after catching one of these impromptu games, Glasser used football to explain the properties of center of gravity, which Gion said allowed him to run right past Paul Prince who was taller and bigger than he. Gion also boasted that his sons Brock and Grant were fortunate to have Jim as one of their teachers and that his daughter Allison is presently taking a class from Glasser.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler was present to present an award to Mr. Glasser, but before she made the presentation she confessed that being in the gym gave her a funny feeling. The last time that she was here she and her Flasher teammates were “getting their butts kicked” by the Mott girls. And understandably that confession drew some applause.
“Through four schools and 50 years, Glasser has touched the lives of countless students,” Baesler said.
“I’m sure that his students have accomplished much since they left his classroom,” Baesler said.
Glasser never married and never had children of his own, but considers the countless number of students his children. “It’s really nice to see young people go out and become part of the community, to be a community leader,” Glasser said.
There is one key element that has brought success to his teaching career, and to any teacher’s career. “You had better like kids,” Glasser said. “And you don’t go into it for the money.” Many of those rewards don’t come immediately. Sometimes you have to wait a long time.
Mr. James Glasser still has that love for kids and, they must return that love, because at the conclusion of the ceremony amidst the applause were raised fists and shouts of “Glasser,” “Glasser,” “Glasser,” “Glasser.” It must have been the Wildfire football team.