Excellence and enthusiasm: the legacy left by retired history teacher Mr. Jim Felt
Aug 23, 2018 03:56PM
By Jana Klopsch
By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]
In August, when the late bell for first period rang on the first day of school at Olympus High, someone was missing. Someone who had been there every year for that bell since 1972. It was Mr. Jim Felt, a history teacher who retired with the class of 2018. He taught at Olympus for 46 years.
Kim Gilbert works in the office at Olympus and says though she’s happy for Felt and hopes he enjoys retirement, he will be missed. She described him as a teacher who always went the extra mile, but was very private as far as accolades were concerned. “He won several awards, but he never wanted the attention,” said Gilbert.
In 2013 he received a Huntsman Award for excellence in education. He was described by the Deseret News as a “veteran teacher” with “rigorous” standards. Passionate about his subject, it was reported that his AP European history classes were always filled to capacity.
Olympus Principal Steve Perschon is one of his admirers. “He cares deeply for his students and his passing rate on the AP exam was always significantly higher than the state and national averages,” said Perschon.
His classes were fun, but he was as famous for his fashion as he was for his curriculum. His outfits and ties complemented his lessons and showed pride in the school. He wore a green suit (one of Olympus’s school colors) on game days.
Felt has been an announcer at home football and basketball games for many years, and will continue to fill that role at Olympus. Even his announcing style was educational. One student said, “Sometimes he would be announcing at the games and he would give hints and answers to quizzes and tests over the loudspeaker. I loved it!”
Students milling around on registration day in August perked up when they heard Felt’s name. One student body officer said, “I didn’t even have him, and just from hearing my friends talk, I knew how amazing a teacher he was!”
Sara Watts, who is currently a senior at Olympus, had AP World Civilizations with Felt her sophomore year. She was all smiles when she remembered being in his class. “Once we were having a lesson on royalty, and he dressed all in purple because it’s the color of royalty. He had great ties, and he had a suitcoat in every color. He never wore the same outfit twice!” Watts said.
His teaching approach included note-taking. “He was amazing. He wrote everything on the board before class, then we’d take notes and he’d fill in information while we were in class. I’ve never learned so much in my life. And I enjoyed it,” Watts said.
Watts thinks of Felt as an ideal teacher. “I think those teachers who love what they’re doing are the best. They’re so passionate about what they do, and everyone wants to be in their classes.”
“Jim loves history and had a way of making history come alive for his students,” said Perschon. “In fact, many parents — who were also his former students — wanted him to teach their own children because of the memorable experiences they had in his classroom.”
Former Olympus Student Ashlie Gray never had Felt as a teacher, but heard all about him. “Everyone that had him loved him,” she said. “I also think he’s immortal. He was there when my dad was and literally looks the exact same.”
Felt loved Olympus, and Olympus loved him back. His retirement party, held May 18, had a phenomenal turnout. “Most retirement parties are held in the (smaller) alumni room. His was held in the cafeteria. Most retirement events last two hours, but his lasted six hours. He influenced generations, and so many people in the community wanted a chance to visit with him,” Gilbert said.
Felt intends to keep his ties to Olympus High and will continue announcing at games. “We will miss having Jim in the classroom, but are happy that he will still be the voice of the Titans and will announce our football and basketball games,” said Perschon.