Retiree: Mark Bigler


Emma Day

Gym teacher/boys basketball coach Mark Bigler retires after 14 years of teaching at West.

Emma Day, Social Media Manager

Q: How long have you been teaching at West and in general?  

A: Fourteen years at West and 41 years of teaching.  Head basketball coaching for 37 years and head track coaching for five years.  I was an assistant track coach for 15 years and also coached baseball and softball.


Q: What are your plans for retirement?  

A: Giving time to my family, especially my eight grandchildren. I also will be working out daily again!  I also have a job selling for a sporting goods company, which represents Adidas.


Q:  Why did you start teaching?

A: I loved sports and two of my high school coaches encouraged me to become a teacher and a coach.


Q: What was your favorite memory of teaching?

A: So many stories that are favorites.  All have a common thread….seeing a student grow up to be successful in the real world, become a great spouse and parent, and having them share with me their family successes.


Q: Did you want to teach when you were younger?

A: I knew I wanted to teach from the time I was in fifth grade. I decided early on, and my best friend in high school also went into a lifetime of teaching and being a principal.  We roomed together in college.


Q: How many years of schooling did you go to?

A: I earned my BA degree in Physical Education and Health from the University of Northern Iowa.  I attended the United States Sports Academy and earned a Master’s degree in Athletic Administration.


Q: What will you miss the most?

A: I will miss the students and also the teachers/coaches that I have worked with.


Q: What all have you taught?

A: K-8 PE; middle school health: driver education; high school physical education/Strength and Conditioning; Leadership Education


Q: What was your biggest accomplishment as a teacher?

A: Surviving 41 years. Seeing so many students set goals and accomplishing them.


Q: Do you think you have impacted the students? And if so how?

A: I hope so. I hope students felt I cared about them, and was proud to be at West. I began the term Falcon Nation during our 2011 championship season. I am proud it stuck.

Q: What has been your least favorite thing about teaching here?

A: Teacher’s meetings.

Q: What will you remember about your time at West?

A: All the great students, staff and teachers. They are the people that make West a fun place.

Q: How has teaching impacted you in your life?

A: I appreciate how supportive my parents and teachers were. They encouraged me to enter teaching/coaching, and I hope some students I have worked with choose to do the same. I have many former players that coach at all levels of basketball, from the NBA to middle school boys and girls.  My son is one of them. He and some other former players have been coach of the year at the collegiate level for their conference or for the nation. I have a former player who is now an assistant with the Denver Nuggets in the NBA. Head coaches at schools like Pella, Charles City, Urbandale, to name a few, were coaches who I hired for the first time when they started out. That makes me proud.

Q: What life advice would you give your students?

A: Set goals and don’t make excuses. You can achieve anything you set your sights on if you are willing to do the work. Hang with people that help you reach your goals, not those that pull you away from them.

Q: What are some things you wish more people understood about teaching?

A: The number of hours you put into it.  With teaching and coaching, there were many times I would be at West over 80 hours in a week.

Q: How do you show your school spirit?

A: I try to attend events to show students I care. I try to wear Falcon clothing every day. Also by stating, “It’s always a great day to be a Falcon!” whenever I can.

Q: Are there any embarrassing teaching moments you’re willing to share?

A: When I was being evaluated as a student teacher, I was teaching a swim class and being videotaped. I was on the side of the pool explaining a swim stroke and lost my balance, falling into the pool. Of course, the kids thought it was quite funny. My supervising teacher lets me watch it in slow motion multiple times. It was a humbling experience.