By Melinda Munson
Skagway teacher Kent Fielding was honored at August’s school board meeting with the 2023 Don Hather Wall of Fame award.
Upon receiving the recognition, he spoke briefly, and humbly.
“I feel slightly embarrassed,” he said. “There are so many great teachers in the school that do as much as I did.”
Originally started in 2012, the wall is in honor of Skagway resident Don Hather, a former coach and booster of Skagway School and its sports teams.
Fielding, in his 19th year at Skagway, teaches English, American literature, history and U.S. government.
“Kent, probably more than any teacher in school history, is responsible for producing not only great students in the classroom, but phenomenal student-athletes in a wide range of activities,” said the nomination letter submitted by Jeff Brady.
Fielding is a past finalist for Alaska Teacher of the Year.
He has also been Alaska Coach of the Year for Drama, Debate and Forensics (DDF). He coached Skagway to several state championships, including two Alaska DDF Students of the Year. Two of Fielding’s teams won their division at state championships.
Brady, the 2022 Don Hather Wall of Fame recipient, addressed Fielding’s success with DDF.
“By far for the size of our student body, Skagway has been an elite program in Alaska and produces national qualifiers,” Brady said.
Fielding also coached track and cross-country, mentoring several regional champions.
“And maybe not a feather in his cap, but very worthy of recognition, was his willingness to take on a very thin boys’ basketball team of just five players a few years ago and guide them through a no-win season while keeping their heads held high,” Brady said. “The best coaches and mentors in this world know how to get the most out of their students, whether they win or lose.”
“Jeff is probably overstating some stuff,” Fielding told the audience after accepting the award. “There are so many great educators that I work with that do a phenomenal job. “…I dropped my daughter off at Columbia this past weekend. This school produced someone who could go to a school that very few people – one of the top schools that is so hard to get into – I think 3% of people who apply there get into it. And you know, I saw her grow from so many different teachers in this school. …She’s a product of the school and I can’t tell you how proud I was.”
Fielding hopes to see more teachers added to the wall in the future.