At the beginning of every school year, the Moffat County School District hosts a new teacher orientation meeting. Bruce Gregg, a school district employee since 1977, liked to attend the meeting to give the teachers some words of wisdom.
"I came here expecting to stay a couple of years, and now it has been (fill in the corresponding number of) years now," he would say. Then he'd think back to his own teacher orientation meeting.
"I came here in '77 during the boom, and there were 40 or 50 new teachers in the meeting," he said. "I remember back to when I was sitting in the room feeling both excited and nervous and I can imagine that is what the new teachers at the meetings today feel, too."
Twenty-eight years later, after moving from Mississippi to "teach a little and ski a lot," Gregg retired from the school district.
"I came thinking I would try it and then return to law school to eventually join my dad's practice," he said. "Then one day I woke up and I had the things that make a guy stay put: a mortgage, a wife and children."
Gregg met his wife, Susan, when he moved to Craig. The two teachers were married in '79 on a Thursday, and the next day they coached the Bulldogs at the Tiger Invitational track meet in Grand Junction.
"(The wedding) is still something I hear about today," Gregg said. "At the retirement party the school district had for me (Superintendent) Pete (Bergmann) joked that Susan and I spent our honeymoon coaching track in Grand Junction."
Gregg and Bergmann came to Craig the same year. They earned their master's degrees at CSU at the same time, coached sports teams together, and during the 2001-02 school year they shared the interim superintendent duties with Jim Rugh. Then their similar career courses changed. Bergmann was hired as superintendent and Gregg went back to teaching.
"I thought about administration, but the time I enjoyed the most was spent in the classroom, so I chose to go back," he said. "I'd spent 11 years in administration (as a principal or vice principal) and it was time for a change."
Gregg spent the last four years as a physical education teacher at Craig Intermediate School.
During his time as a school district employee, Gregg was a teacher, a coach and an administrator. He said some of his most rewarding times were with classes when the chemistry with his students was perfect. Two of those classes were his advanced psychology class in '77 and a sixth-grade geography class in the mid-1980s.
He said some of his more challenging moments were in classrooms where the opposite chemistry was created.
He coached football, basketball, baseball, track and cross country during his tenure. He and Bergmann started the high school baseball program. He also had the chance to watch both of his daughters, Megan and Ashleigh, compete as Bulldog athletes.
The year of 2005 has been full of milestones for Gregg and his family. He celebrated his 50th birthday, 25th wedding anniversary, his retirement and his daughters both graduated from Western State College in Gunnison. "It was quite the memorable year," he said.
Susan plans to retire next year, leaving Bruce a year to plan the couple's retirement and to have some time to himself. "I'm going to recreate, recreate, recreate and volunteer for some local non-profits," he said.
Grand Junction will be the next stop for the Greggs so they can be, as Bruce put it, "closer to the equator."
Admittedly, leaving a career and a town that has been a part of Bruce for half his life won't be easy. "Craig has been great to my family," he said. "The school district provided a top-notch education for my daughters and it was great to me."
He said he wasn't ruling out a chance to get back into education.
Maybe there's an opening for a new-teacher advisor somewhere out there. Gregg's experience from teacher to superintendent has given him wisdom. It all goes back to that first meeting with the district.
"If I could give a new teacher advice, I can think of three things," he said. "Take advice from veteran teachers, learn how to read kids and make sure you have a sense of humor."
And then one day the "couple of years" they planned to stay in Craig will have turned into 28 great years.