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New career, new subject for Flathead High history teacher

By Rebecca Vogt, KCFW Reporter, rvogt@kcfw.com
Published On: Aug 28 2012 06:12:43 PM MDT
Updated On: Aug 28 2012 06:25:25 PM MDT
KALISPELL, Mont. -

"I want to make sure that I keep the kids enthralled with learning," said Pat Reilly, "I want them to be excited to come to class. That's what this is all about."

Pat Reilly may look like a seasoned teacher at Flathead High School, but he just started his new job.

"I decided, 'What do I want to do for the rest of my life?' So I decided I would go back and teach history," he explained.

Three years later after getting his degree in Secondary Education in August 2012, the 56 year old Kalispell resident found the position at FHS.

"I didn't know that one would be at Flathead High School," said Reilly. "A year ago I didn't, and then all of a sudden one did and I was like Alleluia!"

His love of history stems from his father and grandfather - he's lived through some of it, too.

"Kids like hearing about the Cold War," Reilly described. "When I taught the Cold War student teaching we just closed up the books and put them away and I said, 'Let me tell you what really happened because I lived through that period.'"

While Reilly loves ancient history, he also likes to incorporate modern technology into his teaching - it's more than just memorizing dates and facts.

"My philosophy is just to give them the information, we dissect it, and understand how it all ties together," he professed.

His classroom also tells a story of the past. There are dozens of knick-knacks, posters, and books - "When they offered me the job, I said give me the oldest, rattiest room in the school and allow me to do whatever I want in here!"

With the first day of school on the horizon, Reilly says he has no fear, but rather excitement, to close a chapter on his old career and start writing a new history on Thursday.

"My original intention was to teach. Kind of took a detour. And after all years its coming back together," he concluded.