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FHS teacher Pat Reilly recaps first year teaching

Published On: May 21 2013 07:31:39 PM MDT   Updated On: May 21 2013 09:39:23 PM MDT

When we first met Pat Reilly, the 56-year-old history teacher was just putting the finishing touches on his classroom and prepping for the first day of school.

"My philosophy is just to give them the information, we dissect it, and understand how it all ties together," he told NBC Montana back in August.

Nine months later, not much has changed. Students we spoke to realize just how unique Reilly really is.

"He's definitely one of the best teachers I've ever had because he really engages with us," exclaimed Emma Sauve. "And he makes it feel like he's still a teacher but also a friend and someone that we can relate to."

"He said it was going to be hard but he was going to work though it with us," explained James Early.

Reilly felt he's learned a great deal from spending time in front of his students.

"I'm a tough teacher. I hold the kids' feet to the fire but they respond," said Reilly. "I've learned you can ask these kids a lot. The more you ask the more they respond."

Assistant Principal Michele Paine said Reilly has also inspired the staff - from his heavily decorated room to his go-getter attitude.

"Our most masterful teachers are ones who continue to learn and grow" explained Paine. "Pat has that mindset I believe is always looking for new ways, new things, and new techniques. That's what keeps you going."

And while he'll start on next year's curriculum on the first day of summer, Reilly looked back on the 2012-13 school year with pride.

"It's been the most rewarding year of my life. It's also been the most challenging," said Reilly. "I've done a lot of things in my life but this type of job you're on your toes all the time. And you better know your stuff because these kids will catch you."