Principal Dave Bouge likes to tell his students at Bowdish Middle School about the time he was beat up across the street from the school.
Of course, it was 1968 and he was a student at Bowdish. He later chalked the whole event up as a rite of passage.
At the end of the school year, the 59-year-old will retire after 37 years in education, all of them spent in the Central Valley School District.
After his no-so-great start at Bowdish, he went on to graduate from University High School and attended Spokane Falls Community College and Washington State University.
He was planning on being a lawyer and was set to study law at the University of Idaho until he spent a week in a job shadow with a lawyer. He needed to find something else to do.
A friend was doing his student teaching at a middle school in Pullman, so he visited the class.
“It sure looked fun,” he said. “And it is.”
He started his teaching career at Evergreen Middle School, hired by a principal who had once sent him home from school for not wearing a belt. Bouge taught math those first few years, even though he majored in political science in college. He went on to Horizon Middle School, North Pines and has been at Bowdish since 2005.
While he’s not counting down the days until retirement, he said his co-workers are doing that for him. He did figure out that he has worked 6,660 school days, plus many more when the students weren’t there.
The walls of his office document his personal history – both at home and at school – as well as the history of America, with prints of Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and Tom Foley.
Among the highlights of his career: Taking his history students from Horizon to Washington, D.C., one year. One of his students got separated from the class in the Senate. When Bouge found the student, the boy said he’d gotten onto an elevator. The man inside told him he wasn’t supposed to be there. The student replied that he was a taxpayer and could be and the man agreed with him.
When the class gathered to watch the Senate convene, the student pointed to Sen. Edward Kennedy as the man in the elevator.
He said his favorite memories in the Central Valley School District are personal: The time his son carried the ball in the Tacoma Dome at the state championship in 1998 (“Bouges do not carry the ball,” he joked), watching his stepson wrestle and his daughters compete in volleyball and track.
Bouge said his kids have grown and now his grandchildren are attending Bowdish.
Now that he’s retiring, he plans to start some home improvement projects, maybe get a part-time job and travel with his wife of 20 years, Glenna.
He said he has a bucket list of places to see, including the Redwood Forest and the Grand Canyon. He wants to take a Mediterranean cruise.
“(There comes a) time when you’ve done everything you need to do,” he said of his retirement. He said the best thing a teacher can do is move from building to building, approaching education with a fresh set of eyes.
“I will miss it,” he said.