For all but two years in its 58-year history, Centre school district has had a Wyatt on its teaching staff. That will change this spring when Greg Wyatt will retire.
Jim Wyatt joined the staff in 1959 and retired in 1990 after 31 years. His son, Greg, joined the staff one year later, in the fall of 1991, and is retiring after 25 years at Centre.
“It makes me feel old,” the elder Wyatt said. “We let our kids choose what they wanted to do. Greg was always interested in athletics, and I think he has done quite well.”
Looking back, Greg believes his father did influence him in his decision to become a teacher and coach.
“I probably didn’t see it at the time. I wanted to go into sports broadcasting,” he said, “but in the end, like my father, I chose to stay involved with kids.”
Both men met their wives at Centre. Greg’s mother, Elaine, was the school secretary when Jim came, and Greg’s wife, Cindy, came to Centre as a teacher in 2003.
Jim Wyatt said he followed Ted Kolzow, his high school coach and principal at Silver Lake, to Centre when Kolzow became the principal in the district’s second year.
Jim was a graduate of Washburn University and taught social sciences and history. He also was an assistant boys’ basketball coach, girls’ basketball coach, and freshman football coach at various times. He became a halftime school counselor after receiving a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Kansas in 1964.
Greg Wyatt is the athletic/activities director, coaches girls’ golf, and teaches history and government.
After receiving a citizenship award as a senior at Centre High School in 1979, Wyatt went on to graduate from Bethany College and receive many honors as a high school teacher and coach for 32 years. As activities/athletic director since 2007, he has become a familiar face among school district administrators and coaches in Marion County.
Wyatt taught and coached at Marion High from 1984 to 1986, including a stint as head girls’ basketball coach.
April Ogden was one of his players who caught the eye of the University of Kansas girls’ basketball coaches. They arranged to come to Marion to see her play.
Wyatt told them they could talk to April after the game but not before, so as not to make her nervous. But as the team was warming up, the KU coaching staff walked in, and the players stopped and stared. Wyatt said he doesn’t remember how the game turned out, but the girls were nervous. He said April went on to play at Pittsburg State.
As a coach, Wyatt figures he has experienced about 30 championships in league, regional, and sub-state tournaments in girls’ basketball, boys’ basketball, volleyball, golf, and softball.
He especially remembers the 1994-1995 girls’ basketball team. They played Marais Des Cygnes Valley at a substate at Butler County and just missed going on to state. Marais Des Cygnes took second that year and Hope took fourth.
Another year, in a substate at Clay Center, a Centre player missed a wide-open layup that resulted in a 1-point loss to Wetmore in the championship game. Wetmore placed third at state.
In 1995, Wyatt coached a Kansas girls’ basketball team in a tournament in Belgium and France.
Wyatt believes that sports and academics work together to build good character.
As “at-risk” director, he conducted programs to build students’ self-esteem and sense of responsibility. He helped juvenile offenders complete community service hours by going with them into local communities to clean up and improve conditions.
The Lost Springs native served as mayor for several years. He helped create a Marion County fire district to protect the city and school.
He helped organize numerous activities and presentations intended to improve student character in school and in the community.
In January, Wyatt received a “Teacher of the Year” award from the Tri-County Chamber of Commerce in Herington.
“I would like to think that I had some part in challenging my students and helping them become successful within their careers today,” Wyatt said.
He is looking forward to spending more time with Cindy, who retired from teaching last spring. They live at Marion County Lake.
“Retirement to me simply means that a chapter of life is closing but another chapter is about to open up,” he said. “There are all sorts of possibilities on what this new chapter will be like, but I know I will enjoy it as, whatever it may be, I will be doing it with my wife.”
His father also lives at Marion County Lake. They enjoy bowling together.
“I haven’t spoken with Greg about this, but we don’t consider that the school will shut down after this,” Jim Wyatt joked. “It will still operate.”