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3/25/2014 10:43:00 AM
Williams High School science teacher Mike Fleishman to retire after 38-year teaching career
Williams High School science teacher Mike Fleishman will retire at the end of this school year. He plans to spend time traveling with his wife and enjoying his grandkids. Ryan Williams/WGCN
Williams High School science teacher Mike Fleishman will retire at the end of this school year. He plans to spend time traveling with his wife and enjoying his grandkids. Ryan Williams/WGCN

Marissa Freireich
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Mike Fleishman didn't set out to be a teacher. He graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in wildlife management.

But when he realized few jobs were available in that field, Fleishman knew right away he wanted to put his science background to use as a teacher.

When Fleishman started teaching in 1976, he became the fourth generation in his family to choose the profession. Now after a 38-year teaching career, Fleishman will retire in May from Williams High School (WHS).

Fleishman first came to WHS about 17 years ago to serve as the principal. After about four years he returned to teaching.

"It was a different reward," Fleishman said of working as an administrator. "It was good. But I guess the heart still lies in teaching."

Throughout the years, Fleishman has taught pre-algebra, biology, chemistry, physical science, geographical information systems and physics.

"If it's a science I've taught it, basically," he said.

Fleishman's favorite subjects to teach have been biology and chemistry because of the strong science background he gained in college.

Fleishman also liked teaching pre-algebra.

"I enjoy teaching the kids that struggle with math," he said. "I struggled with math, so I know how to teach it in a way, I understand what their problems are."

When asked what he's enjoyed the most about teaching, Fleishman responded, "watching the lights go on."

Fleishman has also enjoyed getting to know his students.

"When they walk through the door, I smile," he said. "I like these kids. They're mine. Once I have them, they're always mine. You can't put your heart and soul into a group of people without really forming that attachment."

The bond Fleishman has with his students has helped him to be a successful teacher both within his subject area and beyond.

"To me I always found that if I value them and I treat them with respect, I get the same respect back and what I have to give them is valued," he said. "It opens up the door for so much more than just content. Now you're talking about life skills and goals and you help them figure out, where are you going? What are you doing? How are you going to get there?"

Out of the many places where Fleishman has taught over the years, Williams is one of his favorites.

"I love this town, I love the people, I love the community," he said. "And I just thank the people of Williams who trusted me with their children. That's a tremendous honor."

Although Fleishman will miss teaching and interacting with his students, he plans to spend his retirement educating a different group of kids: his seven grandchildren.

"When you're a parent you're so busy just surviving," he said. "And grandparents can teach you how to fly a kite, and how to skip a proper rock across the lake, and how to collect flowers and press them, and go on fairy hunts and build pirate forts... and mix in a lot of information."

After he retires, Fleishman is looking forward to traveling with his wife. Their first stop will be Maui to meet their new granddaughter who was born on Thanksgiving. Disneyland is also near the top of the list.

"My wife and I have decided, let's go do the things we promised each other we are going to do while we can still do it," he said. "She's my soul mate, my love. Now this is what it was supposed to be about...Let's see what we can do. We're not out of fun yet."

The Williams Unified School District Governing Board accepted Fleishman's retirement at its Nov. 13 meeting, saying he would be sorely missed.

At that meeting, Fleishman told the board, "I love to teach and it would be a lie to say I'm not going to miss this. But I think I've reached the decision that most people in high school reach eventually-that you have to graduate some time."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, April 14, 2014
Article comment by: Gabriela Gal

A truly exceptional teacher!
This person had a profound impact on my life. I will never forget that.
Thank you

Posted: Friday, March 28, 2014
Article comment by: Logan Stiver

I'm a sophomore in highschool. Over the summer was when I was first aquainted with Mr.Fleishman, I went to summer school because of my trouble with my subject. Throughout that class he taught each and everyone so much, when I finally got the chance to have his bio class this year I was amazed. The way this man teaches, and explains things is great, and there isn't a boring day in that class, we're always learning, his class is defiantly what I look forward every day. He will be greatly missed, not just by me but by every Williams highschool student. Have a great retirement Mr.Fleishman

Posted: Thursday, March 27, 2014
Article comment by: Tyler High

Such an amazing teacher, and an amazing individual as well! He has done so much in the community, and I am sure he will be missed at williams high school. For me it was biology with Mr. Fleishman that made going to school everyday a blast! His teaching style is so unique you can't help but pay attention to every detail! Thank you Mr. Fleishman for being such an amazing teacher!

Posted: Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Article comment by: Elisha Heiser

Knowledge is power. Guaranteed to motivate a student who truly has an interest in education, that statement was not the only advice this amazing teacher gave his students everyday. Fleishman truly had a gift for teaching, enriching, and understanding people. My one and a half years of first hand experience with this educator truly changed my life. I became more open minded, gained more knowledge than I ever have during my, now, twelve years of education, and, believe it or not, started each and every day with pure excitement knowing I would walk into his class and reply to his eager opening comment, "I see you" with, " I am here." Fleishman had a way of teaching students with personal experiences or easily remembered examples. He made sure that each student knew the information before he proceeded to teach. A professor who loves educating, teaches his students with excitement, and puts all of his efforts into effectively giving knowledge is an educator not one person will ever forget. I feel truly blessed to have a man such as Fleishman leave an educational, emotional, and personal mark on my life. I wish the best for Fleishman, and thank him for his life long involvement with educating not only students, but the people around him as well. We love you Fleishman!

Posted: Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Article comment by: Albert Sandoval

Mr. Fleishman will be sorely missed. I was glad I was able to work with Mr. Fleishman and see his love of teaching and the respect he gave to his students first hand. I hope he enjoys his well deserved retirement.

Posted: Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Article comment by: Denise Lacey (Ruhling)

Mike, so excited for your retirement. You were a blessing to me as a parent of students. A principal, and teacher who really took the time to understand the needs of my child and focused us to a solution. ENJOY your retirement as you richly deserve it! Dawn/David/Dustin Ruhling's mom!!!

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