By Christian Weaner Mike Cowley, Bonners Ferry High School Mathematics
This June, after 34 years of teaching—the last 30 of which at Bonners Ferry High School (BFHS)—Mike Cowley retired from his post as the school's stalwart mathematics teacher. A fourth-generation resident and true Badger at heart, Mike's legacy and impact in Bonners Ferry will continue for years to come.
"My roots are definitely here [and] my heart is here," Mike said of Bonners Ferry. "This I consider home no matter where I happen to be."
Mike grew up on a farm 5 miles outside of town and began attending school in the Boundary County School District in the first grade. Sports were his passion from a young age, and Mike became a standout athlete during his time at BFHS, competing in football and track and field, and earning All-League honors as a senior in basketball. Mike also played drums in the BFHS band and recalls fond memories of marching in various parades throughout North Idaho and the surrounding area.
"I had such a good experience growing up here, and especially in high school," Mike remembered. "I think that’s what drew me back here to teach at the high school. I wanted to continue that for myself and also help the kids have an enjoyable high school experience."
After graduating from BFHS in 1980, Mike moved to Spokane, where he attended Whitworth College (now Whitworth University) to study history and mathematics. Mike always thought he would work in a math-related field, but it was his desire to go into coaching that pushed him to pursue a teaching career.
Mike graduated from Whitworth in 1984 and later took his first teaching position at a K–8 school located on Fort Irwin Army Base in Southern California, where he began his teaching and coaching careers and met his wife, Amy.
After four years at Fort Irwin, Mike took a position at BFHS, and he and Amy moved back to Mike's hometown.
Over the years, Mike stayed involved in the school community, running the football scoreboard, coaching everything from C team football to JV girls basketball and planning the yearly "senior sneak" trip to the Fairmont Hot Springs in British Columbia.
"I've been doing this long enough that I've had a lot of kids of kids that I coached or taught," Mike said. "A lot of the kids I coached, I now have their kids as students or have had them [in the past]."
Mike explained that being a teacher will always be a big part of his identity, and he said he plans to stay involved with the BFHS community in the future, which has shaped him into the person he is today.
He is thankful for the staff, students and community members he has developed relationships with over the years.
"As I look back on everything, God has paved the way for me," Mike said.