Rigby High School may not be the largest school in the region, but in 2019, it officially has one of the best art teachers in the state.
Michael Feik has been named the 2019 High School Art Teacher of the Year and Idaho Art Teacher of the Year. Feik has been a teacher at Rigby High School for seven years, and, according to one nomination letter, created a thriving art program out of almost nothing.
Feik said he was initially the only art teacher at the high school. He said he had started hosting galleries at the end of the trimester to bring awareness to the art program and allow students to showcase their work. At the end of his first year, interest in the art program had doubled, and the school hired a second art teacher to meet the demand, he said.
Kerry Moser — a teacher at Sugar Salem Junior High, and Bryan Lords — principal of Rigby High School, each nominated Feik for Idaho High School Art Teacher of the Year. According to Moser’s letter, Feik has started multiple programs and benefited not only his students, but students and teachers throughout the area.
“I feel like he is doing an amazing job of energizing the teachers in our part of the state and developing a great support system for us,” the letter reads.
Feik said he felt grateful for Moser’s support, honored to be nominated and surprised at being selected. As part of the process, a video was made of how parents, students and faculty members felt about Feik.
“It was moving, in a way, we don’t always hear thank you as teachers, and that’s really what it felt like,” Feik said of the video.
Feik is a 2012 graduate of Brigham Young University-Idaho and earned his bachelor’s degree in art education composite. While he loves education, he had not always planned to be a teacher, and said he switched from a photography focus to an education focus partway through college.
“As I took that first education class, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is what I’ve been missing my whole life,’” he said.
Feik said his favorite part of being a teacher is when students learn they can do something they previously thought was impossible or prohibitively difficult. He said part of the value of art is teaching people to think critically and realize there is not always only one right solution.
“It’s okay to be different, it’s okay to come up with a solution differently than a textbook, or differently than anyone is doing,” Feik said.
Feik is currently the yearbook adviser and head of the art department. He also teaches ceramics and photography and helps run the high school art club. He said when he is not at school, he enjoys spending time with his wife and three young children, dabbling in glass blowing and supporting students by attending school activities.
“I’m just really grateful for the opportunity that I had to get hired on here (at Rigby High School),” Feik said. “It just really means a lot to me to be a part of this school, this community.”