Longtime teacher retires with visit from ex-student
Like his other classmates, former Moffat County High School student Preston Ivy didn’t know what to expect when new teacher Chris Dralle sauntered into class on his first day in 1979 and exclaimed, “Sugarjets!”
Evidently, Dralle’s straightforward teaching style and tough-guy demeanor made an impression on the then-junior. Ivy made a point — 25 years later — to attend the longtime teacher’s last day Friday.
“You admire someone when they’re here from start to finish,” Ivy said. “He’s to the point and effective. From what it seems, he’s still good.”
Dralle has been teaching for more than three decades, 26 of those years at the high school. During his first year, the high school was located at the current school administration building on Yampa Avenue.
At that time, computers in classrooms were still a dream — quite a contrast to Dralle’s history students who all took computerized finals Friday.
Throughout the years, Dralle has taught classes such as world history and geography. He was the head football coach for five years starting in 1980 and has been the assistant football coach for the past four years.
It’s his playful teaching style and booming voice with more than a hint of a Chicago accent that kept students attention, freshman Amanda Wilson said.
She said Dralle would sometimes jump or skip across the front of a room to grasp students’ attention when he got excited about teaching a subject.
“He makes learning fun,” Wilson said. “Instead of just lecturing, he really gets into it.”
An admitted “loud-mouth” Dralle has been known to drop and do push-ups when profanity escaped his lips. It’s a physical requirement that he also expected out of his students, freshman Kendra Henderson said. She said her stepmother, who also was taught by Dralle, recounted the same story.
“He’s loud,” she said. “I think it’s good. He makes you understand more.”
Dralle, 55, is moving to Bozeman, Mont. The Chicago native landed in Craig on a mission to live and recreate in the West. Dralle, who often is seen riding his bike to work, said he’s keeping with that plan into retirement.
“I’ll have to work at a ski area to support my habit,” he said. “I’ll bike, hike, climb, fish, ski …”
On Friday, Dralle taught his last day in his signature shorts, sneakers and Moffat County Bulldogs T-shirt. Junior Ricky Willis knows Dralle mostly as a coach. The third-year player described his coach as “aggressive, emotional and fun.”
But it’s his familiar exclamation, “Sugarjets!” that some students said they’d miss. Dralle used the unique term regularly to exclaim excitement or to keep from cursing, students said.
“It’s a good substitution for something else,” Willis said.
“I’ve never heard anyone ever say it before,” freshman Nicole Collins said.
In his years teaching, Dralle is now teaching children of his early students, including Preston and Cheryl Ivy’s son, high school junior, Billy.
Having Dralle teach through two generations of Ivy’s family feels good, the former student said.
“I’m extremely proud to say I was in the first class and I’ll be in the last,” Preston Ivy said.
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In another setting, Skiers thrive in cold weather.