Douglas Sahli tried to stay away from being a teacher but always knew he would be one.
"It was one of those things that when I started school, I thought, well, I'm going to take some education classes but also take these other classes thinking those are going to pull me away from what I ultimately will end up doing, but I didn't want to admit that's what I was going to do," he said.
Sahli is now in his 32nd year teaching at Stevens High School, although he's in his 35th year of teaching. He currently serves as the English 10 technical writing teacher. Over the years he taught English 11, creative writing, general composition and literature.
"Anything that comes out of the English department, I at one point probably have had my hand on it," he said.
Sahli grew up in Aberdeen and graduated from high school in 1983. He said there are a lot of educators in the Sahli clan — his uncle was a teacher and coach at Northern State University, his cousin went on to education, an aunt was a teacher — so education was always stressed in his house.
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From Aberdeen, he went to Northern State and played a few years of basketball for Coach Bob Wachs and Coach Bob Olson.
Sahli said Northern State is known as a teachers college, but he doesn't know why he tried to stay away from education. He said perhaps it was to be obstinate.
"I just thought I'd explore other options before I settled in on what I knew I always was going to do," he said. "Thirty-five years later, I think I can probably look back and say I made the right decision."
Sahli said one of the deciding factors was that he always believed he could make a difference somewhere.
"I think I will always believe I can make a difference somewhere, whether it's a student's life or a peer's life or something," he said. "And being remembered. Remembered positively, I think is also something that I think every teacher has that desire."
He said he thinks education gives the greatest opportunity to be remembered, but he has to make sure it's positive.
Sahli said he chose English because he's always liked reading. He said he has his degree in physical education and can teach a lot of different things, but English, literature and writing allows for a freer form of thought and education.
He said it allows students to explore ideas in writing and in literature. He said the big idea he likes to emphasize to his students is civil discourse and being able to respectfully disagree.
Sahli said socially, people aren't doing a good job of that currently.
He said he used to coach sophomore girls basketball at Stevens. He said he coached about 16 years, but retired from it the year after his daughter left the team.
Sahli said he stays active where he can, and he's still involved with basketball, although it's as a score keeper. Sahli said he's also at every volleyball game.
Outside of school and sports, Sahli serves as the Rapid City Municipal Band emcee.
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