April’s Top Notch Teacher: Onalaska High School’s John Reimler

English teacher and theater enthusiast John Reimler brings passion to education
April's Top Notch Teacher

ONALASKA, Wis. (WKBT) – Theater is one Onalaska English teacher’s passion. The fine arts fell silent for much of 2020 after events were canceled. He remains motivated to prepare kids for life’s stage. The years start to blend together after a long career.

“I can’t do the math fast enough but I started teaching in 1982,” John Reimler said.

Not one of those years any more or less important than the next for Reimler.

“I taught in Indiana for a time. I taught at another school in Illinois,” Reimler said.

He also taught in Chicago Heights for a period.

“That’s actually where I met my wife who I have also taught with,” he said.

He joined Hilltopper nation in 1999. Despite all his years at the front of the class, spreading wisdom and knowledge, no amount of experience prepared him for 2020.

“When you’ve taught as long as I have, sometimes you’re tempted to say I’ve seen it all,” Reimler said. “Boy this year, it’s been like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”

Don’t believe him? Just sit down in one of his English classes.

“I had some kids doing their speeches from home today, and we watched them on the screen there,” Reimler said. “Other kids did their speeches here.”

Reimler’s pride and joy faded to black last year too.

“Hopefully by next fall we’ll be able to do a regular play again,” he said.

Reimler helps theater students take the next step in show businesses. Something that teaches students more than staying in character.

“It really teaches kids how to work together,” Reimler said. “How to develop self-confidence.”

Confidence carried into adulthood. The next leaders of their communities.

“Mr. Reimler – it’s really sad because I’m a senior so I’m leaving this year,” Nadia Talbi, drama club president said. “Mr. Reimler is one of those teachers that you take for granted for like all of your years of high school because you don’t realize how good they are.”

Senior Kylie Kapelke said he included every student in activities. 

“Made every role seem just as important as the biggest one,” Kapelke said. 

Junior Connor Pangburn did not hesitate with his opinion of Reimler. 

“He makes class fun,” Pangburn said.

Senior Paige Eide said he offered more than an education. 

“He also cares about our mental health over getting an assignment in,” Eide said.

Senior Olivia Gamoke echoed Eide’s words. 

“Overall, he’s a really good teacher,” Gamoke said. “I love him.”

The years come and go, but John’s love for education remains constant.

“I still like what I’m doing and look forward to it every day,” Reimler said.

A man directing a classroom in the middle of a pandemic, but keeping student’s education on script so they can own life’s grand stage.

“He’s so passionate about everything he does,” Talbi said. “He truly cares about each and every one of us.”

Reimler said his wife is a huge support and he said it’s nice they’ve been able to teach together over the years.