Madsen retires after 30 years teaching; plans to travel

so long mad dog - Mike Madsen, a long-time teacher at Willow Creek Composite High School, is retiring. Affectionately known as "Mad Dog", he sits beside just some of the "Mad Dog"-themed artwork made by students . Photo by Rob Vogt

By Rob Vogt, Local Press Writer

The teacher affectionately known as “Mad Dog” has howled for the last time at Willow Creek Composite High School.

Mike Madsen, who started teaching at the school in 1989 and is most associated with teaching chemistry, is retiring.

Madsen was hired the same day he was interviewed, joining a veteran staff.

“I was the youngest guy on staff when I showed up,” he said. “Now I’m the last one.”

That first year, he taught Chemistry 10-20-30, special education, English and Social Studies.

“I’ve taught a lot of courses,” he said from behind his desk on the last day of school.

A native of Calgary, Madsen graduated from the University of Calgary with a degree in chemistry in 1984.

He worked in industry and enjoyed doing scientific research then, with a downturn in the economy, looked to education where he earned an after degree in secondary education.

“I thought, I like kids and maybe I can do some good,” Madsen said.

For one of his student teaching rounds, he even taught in the same class he learned science in.

His first teaching job was a year in High Level, in northern Alberta.

Soon after, he headed south where he has remained ever since.

Over the years he has taught everything from health and Career And Life Management to math, science, chemistry, sports option; travel and tourism option; science, technology and society option; academic support and much more.

He has also looked after statistics for the high school football team, doing a chronology of every play and breaking them down.

“It’s been fun, I’ve seen a lot of great football,” Madsen said. “I’ve seen them win two provincial championships.”

Another passion has been travel, and sharing that with students.

He was involved in travel clubs that went to Greece in 1996; Italy in 1998; England in 2000; Greece in 2006; and most recently a tour of Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto earlier this year.

“It was awesome,” he said of his most recent trip. “The kids represented our town really well.”

Along the way he has also coached badminton and volleyball.

“It’s been a good career,” Madsen said. “It’s given me more than I thought with the kids and my colleagues.

“I’ve met a lot of great people.

“There’s a lot of great kids I’ve taught in this town and kids of kids,” he said.

Madsen will not be bored in retirement.

He has some family weddings and reunions to attend, as well as the next big adventure to plan.

He has been married to Val for 25 years and has crafted 25 things to do for 25 years to celebrate.

And what about the “Mad dog” nickname?

That dates back to university where the person he learned to teach chemistry from at Central Memorial high school was named “Mad Dog” McConnell.

That nickname followed Madsen to university where his classmates started calling him “Mad Dog”.

He told one teacher in High Level about it, and that spread like wildfire and has followed him ever since.

“It just stuck,” he said. “It gave the kids something to connect to.”

So much so that the wall behind his desk is full of student artwork honouring the “Mad Dog”.