Come next week, Gary “Wags” Wagner will be cleaning out his English teaching room, for the last time. He will be hanging up his teaching hat and moving on to another career, working for Carr Auction & Real Estate.
“It’s not that I don’t like teaching,” Wagner said. “I’ve loved it. It is just time for a career change. This new venture will be my third ‘career.’ My first was a radio career, then teaching and, now, this new venture into auctioneering, sales and real estate. I am excited about that.”
Wagner is a 1988 graduate of the University of Nebraska with a degree in broadcasting. He and his wife Marcy, also a teacher, moved to Larned in July of 1989 as Marcy was teaching in Pawnee Rock and Gary went to work for KANS Radio in Larned as well as some part-time work for Sears in Great Bend. Later he went to work for the Fort Larned School District as a para and also coached some middle school sports.
Finally, at his mother’s urging, Wagner went back to school and got his degree in teaching. He attended Fort Hays State University three days a week and worked at the radio station and as a para on the days he was not in classes. He graduated with his teaching degree in 1998 and accepted a full-time teaching and coaching position at Kinsley.
Growing up, he had absolutely no interest in being a teacher. That, of course, all changed and became the thing that most defines him.
In the Larned school system Gary, and his wife Marcy, have taught and coached for over two decades. There have been times when they have coached together handling cross country, some track and also middle school girls basketball. They are still together so those “trying” coaching times have been overcome and Wagner attributes most of that success to Marcy. He also states that the kids he has had in school, and in athletics, have been terrific.
“I love being with the kids. They are why I teach,” he said.
“Do kids change over the years? Yeah, I guess they do but, gosh, don’t we all? Electronics, computers and social media have had a huge impact on all of us, including the young people, yet, and most importantly, the kids want you to care,” said Wagner.
If an outsider were to describe Wagner’s teaching methods, it would be those two words: He cares! On holidays, as well as when he travels to broadcast ball games, he is constantly greeted by former students who just want to say “Hi!” As the “Voice of the Indians” he has had the pleasure of watching and commenting on 21 years of Larned High School athletes. They remember him with great fondness.
“I don’t consider myself a great teacher. I do care though,” Wagner commented. “I care where the kids are going. Parents and teachers can only do so much to guide our youth but, most importantly, you have to care about them.
“I think one of the strengths of our community is that we have had a staff at Larned High School that has a great mix of instructors, a great blend of talent. I believe that every student is able to find someone they could talk to. None of us can do it all but we have a nice blend. I can’t reach every kid but, I believe there is someone here who can,” he said.
“I have absolutely loved teaching and coaching. I cherish the connections and the kids that I have been with. I never saw myself as a teacher but it has been terrific. But now, it is time for a new chapter in my life. I am so pleased that the good folks at Carr Auction and Real Estate have given me this opportunity. I love auctions. I love being around all of the people. Helping people. I am really looking forward to a different chapter in my life.”
Wagner will continue to serve as the “Voice of Indian Sports.” So, that connection with the youth of Larned will be ongoing and there is one thing we can all count on: former athletes, former students and others will continue to seek him out in the future, just reminiscing and shouting, “Hey Wags, what’s up?”