STRASBURG, N.D. (KXNET) — Bill Malaski began his teaching journey in North Dakota, and this is his last year as a science teacher in Strasburg. Between one year in Cooperstown, 33 years in Wishek, and 16 years in Strasberg, Bill Malaski has been teaching in total for 50 years.
Growing up, Mr. Malaski had a hard time in science class. However, when he was in eighth grade, he recalls having a teacher who believed in him and helped him understand anatomy. This inspired Mr. Malaski to become a teacher himself — hoping to encourage students today in the same way he was inspired all those years ago.
“You know I like to see a lot of growth taking place in my kids and also their success,” said Malaski. “And I’m actually a part of that success, and that’s what’s important. And they will come back and tell me about it, and that’s really motivated me to continue on.”
One of Mr. Malaski’s former students, Angie Vliem, went on to be a radiologic technologist at the Wishek Hospital. She said her success in life is because of him.
“I did not realize it until I graduated and went to college,” Vliem recalled, “that wow, he gave me the tools and the know-how to break down any subject, any chapter, whether it’s science or not science related, and get the information that I needed out of a textbook and out of a lecture.”
Just like Mr. Malaski was inspired by his teacher in middle school, one of his former students also followed in his footsteps, becoming a teacher himself.
“He’s the one who really kind of sparked my interest in teaching,” explained 1998 graduate, Josh Wiest. “I went into science, and he was a great mentor for me when I started teaching science here, and really got to be able to call him a friend.”
Over the years, Mr. Malaski has received many acknowledgments for his remarkable teaching abilities — including receiving Coach of The year several times for his participation in the Science Olympiad. In 2005, Mr. Malaski was even the recipient of a Golden Apple Award and has also received several awards given to him as SRC Director of the science fair, where the work of his students is well-known.
“Going to my son’s science fair a year ago, walking around looking at the projects, and yes, they were good — but they weren’t Mr. Malaski good,” stated Vliem. “He expects you to go above and beyond. He knew what your limits were, and he would push you for that.”
Now that he has worked beside Mr. Malaski, Weist said that some of his favorite memories have been those they have spent at the International Science Fair together.
“A lot of times, we would be spending 17 hours on a bus together chaperoning kids,” Wiest recalled. “It was a lot of cramped hours together. Going into it, it seems like a lot of work, but once you see the reward that the kids are getting, it makes it worth it. I really have to thank him for keeping me interested in that, and seeing the payoff.”
Mr. Malaski said that his biggest motivator has been watching his students achieve success.
“When you get some of the students that come back and show me they’re a doctor, show me they’re a nurse, and all of those activities and that and jobs,” Malaski stated, “that’s what has kept me here.”
Shelly Glaesman, a member of the 2000 graduating class in Wishek, showed her thanks in the form of a letter to Mr. Malaski — thanking him for motivating her through the difficult years of her education.
“Mr. Malaski is a one-in-a-million teacher,” read part of the note, “and undoubtedly had he not prepared me the way he did in high school, nursing school would have been nearly impossible for me.”
“I just, I’d like to thank him,” said Wiest. “Not just for me, but for teaching all the kids that he has. I mean, he’s taught for a lot of years — and you know, I think there’s more than one kid that he has probably sparked an interest and a love of science with.”
“You are the end of an era,” said Vliem. “You have taught and inspired so many of us. For that, I know myself — and other classmen — will forever be grateful.”
Mr. Malaski’s last day of teaching at Strasburg will be on May 18. He said that he and his wife both plan to spend their retirement vacationing and with their grandchildren.
For 50 years, Mister Malaski has inspired and instilled a love of science in his students. We’d say he’s earned a vacation and we wish Mr. Malaski a happy retirement.