I was saddened last week when I heard Steve Bielmeier had passed away. Mr. Bielmeier (known to many as Biels) left his mark on many students as an educator and coach for the School District of Amery for 35 years.
As I said in a column recently, there are many times teachers and students leave an impression on each other that the other never even realizes. I have a story about Bielmeier I will never get the opportunity to share with him, but I hope this is story brings a smile to those who loved him and to other students who were just a little better off from having Biels as a teacher.
Although I knew who Mr. Bielmeier was by my Senior year in 1995, I never had him as a teacher. He taught history and Phy. Ed. It was by chance I had other history instructors, and Phy. Ed. wasn’t really my first choice when it came to electives.
I didn’t play the sports he coached as I was too busy cranking out the school newspaper and yearbook. The journalism work was easy on my accident-prone body and would prove to pay off later in life but didn’t really put me in many interactions with the well-known Biels.
My Senior year, I needed one more Physical Education credit to graduate, I had put it off long enough and had no choice in the matter.
I remember letting Bielmeier know on the first day of class that gym wasn’t really my thing, but I was hoping it would be an easy enough as I didn’t want to mess up my grade point average. He told me he expected hard work out of his students and typically didn’t hand out any “A’s.” It wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I told myself I would show up, get through it, and pray for a grade that didn’t totally tank my report card. This is what I did for the first handful of weeks.
By November, Parent/Teacher conferences had rolled around. My mother always attended conferences for her kids whether she thought she would be delivered good news, bad news or something in between; whether we were in Kindergarten, 12th Grade or somewhere in between. When she returned home from my conferences, I was disturbed to hear she hadn’t been handed complete praise of me. She said Mr. Bielmeier relayed I didn’t try very hard in his class. I asked why on Earth she would meet with my Gym teacher!? She told me she met with every single one of my teachers. I thought, “Of course she would.” I am sure a heavy teenage eye-roll accompanied my thought.
When I returned to school I confronted Bielmeier about why he didn’t give a glowing review to my mother. He responded he felt I was a little lazy in his class. I was pretty ticked off with his response as a teacher had never ever called me lazy.
I made it my mission to prove him wrong. I had gym right after lunch, which enabled me to sneak in early. For the weeks following his remarks about my lack of drive, I stomped into the class about 15 minutes early, threw on my gym clothes, tightened up my laces, and sprinted back and forth, from one end of the gym to the other. After a few times of seeing me do this, Bielmeier finally called out to me, “Miss Siegert, what in the hell are you doing?”
I responded, “Don’t ever say bad things about me to me my mother.”
Bielmeier replied with a grin, “Don’t give me reason to.”
Somehow, I made it through his class. I made it out a little more in shape, and with an “A-” on my report card. At first, I thought that grade had taught Mr. Bielmeier a lesson about calling students lazy when they obviously were not, but then I realized it was actually me who was dealt the lesson.
I entered his gym on the first day with the wrong attitude. I thought that my lack of God-gifted physical talent, my sparkling personality and my closeness to the graduation finish line should be considered a free-pass. Biels taught me people should be called out on their crap when they are capable of being better, there really are no free passes in life and hard work is the one way to guarantee results. The minus after the “A” taught me there is always room for improvement. If Biels didn’t care, he wouldn’t have said anything to my mother at all. He would have let me jog along, handed me a “C” and moved along to his next group of kids.
“Thank You” to Biels for caring and for the lessons you taught me and so many others.
I enjoy sharing my thoughts with you and look forward to readers sharing their thoughts in return.
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery WI. 54001 or I can be reached by phone at 715-268-8101