Dave Fehringer, the 'Middle School Math Man' retires after 29 years of equations
Dave Fehringer is a Nebraska native. After graduating from college, he taught in his native state for five years before moving to the Hudson area.
"I am more of a Badger fan than a (Corn)Huskers fan now," said Fehringer, who this week retires after teaching in the Hudson district for 29 years, all of it at the middle school. He started in 1984 launching the district's first computer classes.
"When Hudson first got their computers," said Fehringer, "we started the computer exploratory. It was a new thing for everyone. It was a big ahahhhhh moment. Now students know more than we do. As educators we use it constantly. One example is the white board."
"I have always been kind of a numbers guy," said Fehringer. "I liked math in high school and I wanted to be a teacher." The profession came naturally for him. "My mother was a teacher in a country school. It is probably part genetics and I like to be around people and kids." He also has a lot of close relatives who are teachers as well.
Fehringer taught seventh-grade math for five years in the House of Avalon. Since then and presently he teaches eighth-grade math in the House of Norman, which includes teaching two classes of Algebra 1 and three classes of Pre-Algebra.
Over the years, Fehringer has witnessed changes in many areas.
"I think math-wise, we teach a mile wide and only an inch thick," said Fehringer. "We should go deeper. Their basic skills have really gone down. We push them too fast to get into the higher levels of math. We have gone to the age of instant and fast."
Citing all the various activities students may engage in outside of the classroom, Fehringer feels school has become a secondary thing to everything else.
"Life is busier," said Fehringer. "More than it should be."
Not only have students activities changed, so has the classroom.
"I will say this. Over the years I think we have gone more and more to making things look good on paper. We have been taking more away from the kids in the classroom to make it look better. Even though, I still really work with the kids a lot. What I don't enjoy are the things we need to justify..."
"It seems like we manufacture things to do," said Fehringer. "All we do is test, test and test. It takes so much of our teaching time away. I have never understood doing something if it is not for a cause."
Advice to students: "Students take school seriously. If you work hard, have a good work ethic, you are going to make it."
"I wish at this level we could hold them (the students) a little more accountable," said Fehringer. "I think by eighth grade they should be held more accountable. They get too many chances."
Fehringer's advice to parents after three decades of teaching: "Parents be involved with your kids. Take time to be around them. Don't expect us to raise them. For so many of these kids we are everything."
In retirement, he hopes to travel, do more camping and be able to volunteer more, particularly with the Knights of Columbus in River Falls.
"I will substitute teach and have a little more latitude as to when we can travel," said Fehringer. "The first year or two I will have to see how it goes." His wife is also retiring this year, so the couple will be planning for the future adventures together.