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Steve Thompson, who taught at Faribault Middle School from 1996 to 2013 and again from 2014 to 2017, retires for a third time this month, this time from Faribault High School. (Misty Schwab/Faribault Daily News)

Math teacher Steve Thompson won’t be retiring from Faribault Public Schools for the first time this week, but this time he’s about 99% sure he’s officially done.

“I’ve taught for a long time, in five decades, so [I’ve] developed a lot of friendships,” said Thompson. “Obviously I must have missed it because I retired twice [before].”

For the majority of Thompson’s tenure in the Faribault School District, he taught seventh-grade math at Faribault Middle School. While there, he also taught the English Learner math connections class and intermediate algebra.

Outside the classroom, Thompson has served as assistant football coach and head coach for girls’ track. Whether teaching a math class or coaching athletes, what Thompson enjoyed most was witnessing student improvements. In particular, he likes the sort of improvements that can be measured with numbers. It’s no wonder he chose math as his subject matter.

Although Thompson initially wanted to become a social studies teacher like his dad, he changed his mind in college.

“Math remains constant while social studies changes all the time,” said Thompson.

A 1974 FHS graduate, Thompson served as a long-term substitute teacher at his home district from 1978-79 before he landed his first official teaching job in Redwood Falls. In 1996, he returned to Faribault to teach at the middle school.

In 2013, Thompson retired from Faribault Middle School for the first time to try a different career path. Instead, he put his name on the substitute list at the middle school and received a call in fall 2014 that a part-time math teacher was needed for smaller classes. Thompson accepted the position and taught three more years before his second retirement.

For the first time this past academic year, Thompson accepted a part-time teaching position at FHS. He only expected to teach three math classes for the first semester, but after another teacher resigned, he stayed on board for the full year. The environment gave Thompson a different taste of teaching than he experienced at the middle school.

“The energy was a lot higher in the middle school, a lot of enthusiasm there,” said Thompson. “I think the kids in the middle school needed your attention more.”

Although FHS Principal Jamie Bente, who only worked alongside Thompson for one year, called him “an amazing man.”

“He works so well with the students and will be greatly missed,” said Bente. “I cannot say enough great things about him. He will be sorely missed.”

No matter the grade level he’s taught, Thompson said he gauged the class’s understanding of a concept to determine his pacing for the lesson. And if students needed extra help, he spent time with them one on one.

“Sometimes if you help them just get started, they get through on their own,” said Thompson. “Give them some attention and let them know you genuinely care.”

Now that he’s retired, he plans to join his wife, Teresa, when she travels for work. This summer, he looks forward to trips to Switzerland and Germany. When fall rolls around again, he might make appearances at Faribault Schools again, but not as an official staff member.

“I might continue to substitute,” said Thompson. “I’ll see what happens.”

Reporter Misty Schwab can be reached at 507-333-3135. Follow her on Twitter @APGmisty.

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