Mike King’s former Vail Valley students launching a science scholarship to honor their beloved teacher | VailDaily.com

Mike King’s former Vail Valley students launching a science scholarship to honor their beloved teacher

Alumni commemorating King’s legacy of learning

If You Go …
  • What: Homecoming events to honor Mike King
  • Friday: Tailgating prior to Battle Mountain’s homecoming football game. In Freedom Park across the road from the high school.
  • Saturday: 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Picnic in Vail’s Nottingham Park.
  • Saturday: 5 p.m. Happy hour at the Saloon in Minturn.
  • Sunday: Still in discussion.
  • Information: A science scholarship is being launched in honor or Mike King, who taught in local high schools for more than three decades. Contact Gretchen Graber at gretchen@gretchengraber.com or at 970-376-5448, or email Lisa Holden at lisaholden13@hotmail.com.

Not everyone can teach, or should. Mike King could, and did teach all kinds of lessons in all kinds of local classrooms. Hundreds of people are better for it.

Many of those former students that King taught will gather this weekend during high school homecomings for both Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley. They’ll remember each other and King, and pledge some money for the Mike King Scholarship Fund, because King’s lessons should live on.

Like King’s lessons, the scholarship effort will be ongoing.

“The scholarship for Mr. King will be a continuing effort,” said Gretchen Graber, who graduated from Battle Mountain in 1983.

Graber said former students of King want to start by raising some money to put a bench at Battle Mountain, commemorating King’s legacy of learning.

A lifetime of life lessons

King, who died in 2017, taught life’s lessons for more than three decades in local schools. He started at Eagle Valley High School, then moved to Battle Mountain where he spent the majority of his 28 years teaching at the local public high schools.

King retired in the early 2000s only to find that he didn’t have a natural aptitude for leisure. His buddies Pat Phelan and Mike Isbell were helping get Vail Christian High School up and running, so King became a Saint. He taught, coached and mentored from 2003-2009.

King served as a teacher, coach and athletic director at various times during his long teaching career. When Phelan became Battle Mountain’s wrestling coach, he cajoled King, a successful high school wrestler, into joining him.

“Part of it was his expertise, but mostly I liked the guy,” Phelan said when King died.

Students often learned their best lessons outside King’s classroom, beginning with punctuality. King locked his classroom door the moment the bell rang. If you were late, you stood outside and peeked in the window.

King launched applied life and environmental ethics classes that taught kids how to think for themselves and solve problems.

More than Mountains

His students were mountain kids, so King took them to Denver to work in soup kitchens and feed homeless people.

The next day, his senior students were given a scavenger hunt sheet and had to take public transportation all over Denver — Stapleton airport, the Capitol building — everywhere. King’s reasoning was impeccable, as always. He wanted them to be able to get around, his wife Kathy said at the time.

King spent his career guiding students through their environments. His students are launching a scholarship to make sure he is still speaking.

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