Welcome to our series, #WHYoming.
We are highlighting people from around our communities and asking them a few questions. We want to learn a little about them and see why they chose this great state to raise their families, start their businesses, or simply to ask — Why Wyoming?
For this week’s #WHYoming, I had a chance to talk with Owen Krysl, elementary and middle school teacher for Sweetwater County School District No. 2 for the past 40 years. After spending all 40 years of his teaching career in Green River, Owen is retiring to spend more time with his family and serve his community in different capacities. Many of his plans for retirement are related to his faith.
Whether in the classroom, on the field coaching middle school football, or through his church, Owen works to inspire. The chances are, if you’ve had a child in the Green River school system over the past four decades, one of their favorite teachers was Mr. Krysl. As we all know, it’s the people who make Sweetwater County a great place to be. Owen Krysl is proof of that.
Owen, how long did you work for Sweetwater County School District No. 2? Did you work anywhere else before coming here?
I have had the privilege of working in Sweetwater County School District (SCSD) No. 2 for 40 years. I didn’t work anywhere else; all my years were spent working for the Green River School District.
Why did you decide to become a teacher?
I really think that at the suggestion of my father, Larry Krysl, I made the decision to pursue an elementary education degree. We were talking about my educational choices after I completed high school. That seemed like a right fit for my interests and abilities. Looking back, I’d say he was right.
What grades have you taught throughout your career?
I was able to serve SCSD No. 2 in grades 3-6. Most of my time was spent in 5th grade, although I enjoyed teaching at all grade levels. My last three years have been in the 6th grade.
What have you enjoyed most about teaching?
Probably the most enjoyable element about teaching was seeing students’ creative works come out after teaching a lesson whether it was math, science, social studies, or language arts. I think that more than anything, is when we present ideas through modeling, demonstration, etc. we inspire effort, and creativity that students run with, and find their inner skills and creativity. I think that is what the late Rudy Gunter did in his art class for 40 plus years as well.
You also coached quite a bit throughout your career. What sports did you coach
I coached middle school football at Lincoln Middle School for 14 years; one year in 8th grade, and 13 at 7th grade. Then one day Randy Walker, and Rick Barker caught me at a weak moment when the district needed an additional middle school swim coach, and so I spent a season as a volunteer assistant swim coach. From there it worked into the head LMS head swim coach; so three seasons total. I was glad Randy and Rick caught me.
What did you enjoy about coaching?
What I liked most about coaching was the practices. I liked seeing athletes get better, and having fun. Working with the other coaches was a blast as well. Also, I looked forward to the change of pace for me and the student-athletes to remake their energies after being in the confines of the classroom all day. There was something freeing about it.
What are your plans for retirement?
During retirement I plan to stay busy serving in different capacities. I serve in the Gideons International, placing Bibles in different venues, motels, the college, jails, etc. Also, I help with a ministry to women called Inside Connection, a crisis pregnancy center in Rock Springs that offers alternatives to women. In addition, I serve in my church, GRAG, as a lay preacher, children’s church teacher, board member, weed puller, and whatever is needed. I also like to visit elderly folks. I have a dream to do some art work as well as some home improvements.
How did you end up in Green River?
I was at the University of Wyoming’s job fair at the Student Union Ballroom,when I walked up to Mr. Charles Realing who was the Monroe Principal then looking for teachers. We struck up a conversation and he invited me to Green River for an interview, and lucky for me, I was hired!
What do you appreciate most about our community?
Without a doubt it is the people who make up this community. There are so many people who make Green River and Rock Springs great communities. Also, there are many venues that people can avail themselves to serve and make a difference.
What are some of your hobbies?
My wife would say it’s work, and she’s right, but I would say I do like to walk, ride my road bike (pedal bike), pallet art, and fixing broken things.
If you could give one brief piece of advice, what would it be?
Look for places to serve; start with your family, neighborhoods, and community. Sorry, but I have to say two- A quote by the preacher Chuck Swindols pretty much sums up what I believe. “We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.”
Where is your favorite place to hang out in Sweetwater County?
The Green Belt and Expedition Island- it’s a little slice of heaven in our desert community. Our community leaders have done much to make this a haven of rest and recreation for many.
Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?
That’s easy- Karl Schnackenberg. He is a natural fit. We are like each other in some ways, only he has much more hair. It’s funny to say, but maybe I would be honored to play him.
*editor’s note: Karl is a fellow teacher at Lincoln Middle School.
What would you sing at karaoke?
That’s easy as well. Being a believer, I would like to think I could rock out a splendid rendition of the old church hymn “ How Great thou Art.”
How would your friends describe you?
Sure is a handsome fella. Not really. They would say,”He sure has a lot of energy.”
What is one of your proudest accomplishments?
Staying married for 33 years, and having two successful children.
What is something unique about you?
First of all, I can wiggle my ears, pop my abdominal muscles (six pack) out while pulling my side abdominals in tightly, and thirdly, I have an eternally optimistic view on life.
Why do you choose to live in Wyoming?
I choose to live in Wyoming because it has a home feel, and it’s given me much, especially Sweetwater County.