John Gloege retires after 33 years

John Gloege retired last week from teaching and coaching, spending all of his 33 years and one month in education in the Princeton School District, where he says he hoped he left a “positive impact.”

He was a physical education instructor most of those years, with some health class instruction and wrestling coaching in the early part. Gloege was head varsity boys basketball coach and varsity golf coach for some years and coached American Legion baseball for many seasons.

A native of Glenwood, Gloege decided on his career in the seventh grade when he watched longtime Glenwood high school phy ed teacher Cliff Hanson at work. Hanson was an ex-pro football player who once played for the Chicago Cardinals, Gloege noted. (The Chicago Cardinals folded in 1959, when the team moved to St. Louis.)

Hanson was an ex-Marine who had to quit football when football player John “Johnny Blood” McNally took out Hanson’s knee, which caused Hanson to limp the rest of his life, Gloege said.

Hanson was a “disciplinarian to the max,” a “good teacher,” and a “positive influence,” Gloege continued. “We were all a little scared of him because he was such a disciplinarian.”

Gloege, in talking about choosing his career, said he had always loved sports, and figured in the beginning that teaching phy ed could be the avenue to becoming a coach.

But Gloege said he later “got his priorities right,” coming to believe that teaching was more important than coaching because it could “influence more kids.” Some kids are not elite athletes and they need the most help, he said.


Gloege’s first position

Gloege applied to fill a phy ed teacher opening in 1979, at Princeton’s South Elementary, for his first job in Princeton, but ended up starting out as a study hall monitor at the high school. Within a few months, he took over the high school wrestling coach job and also took over a health class teaching position.

One of his first challenges was teaching sex education in a coed health class. “I was 23 years old at the time and these were 16-year-old sophomores,” Gloege said. “It was quite a cumbersome situation. I was green as could be as a teacher.”

Gloege’s job in his second and third year at the school was just physical education.

Then he moved to North Elementary to teach phy ed for nearly six years, before transferring to what was then the junior high school. It later became a middle school sometime in the 1980s.

Gloege has taught phy ed at the middle school ever since and for many years, up to his retirement, was a head golf coach. He coached American Legion baseball 19 years and was head boys basketball coach for 15 seasons. Gloege has also been a referee, for some years, for high school basketball, even officiating at state tournaments.

Teaching middle school students is challenging in some ways, but it is also a “fun age,” Gloege said. Middle school years are when the student is going through a “critical time” in development, and these students need a positive influence, Gloege explained.

Gloege, describing his teaching approach, said he believed it was most important to just be himself, with the hope that he would then be a “positive influence” on his students.

The most lasting influence on a student, he said, is not the content of the instruction, but instead “the character of the people in their life.”

Gloege said he also gave some special attention to the students who lacked confidence and that he believed in “using encouragement rather than the negative.” If the kid is struggling, give them a pat on the back and tell them if they are getting close to the goal, Gloege said.

Gloege put in a word about phy ed, calling it “way underrated and under appreciated.” People tend to “downplay phy ed,” Gloege said, explaining that exercise and physical fitness are big contributors to a person’s health.

While Gloege did not end up teaching phy ed in his last six weeks or so at the middle school, what he taught would likely be important to the students. The class he taught at the end was called “character education.” It was about communication and the social skills that people need in everyday life for interacting with others.


Retirement plans

Gloege doesn’t plan to stay completely away from teaching phy ed. He plans to substitute teach in phy ed instruction. He also plans to officiate at basketball and football games, and be an umpire at summer adult softball.

But, with retirement, he said, he won’t have the situation he has had so many times of starting his work day at 7:30 a.m. and ending it at 9:30 p.m., when figuring in the after school work such as coaching.

Gloege, 56, also doesn’t expect to be without enough to do in retirement.

“I’m the type of person who is never bored, I always have something to do,” he said. One of his interests is fantasy football, and said that as far as picking winners in baseball, he is predicting that Detroit will win this year’s World Series.