Greg Pottorff has worked almost 40 years in the education field – 28 of those years at Falcon Middle School. Pottorff enjoys helping kids learn, grown and succeed – and he has a penchant for small-town schools.
A native of Colorado, Pottorff grew up in Hotchkiss – a small town on the western slope. “About in eighth grade I knew I wanted to be a teacher,” he said. “I had two influential teachers who were like my role models.” One of his role models led a club called Future Teachers of America and Pottorff served as the club president. “You did service projects and a lot of things helping teachers,” he said.
Pottorff graduated from Hotchkiss High School in 1971 and then headed to Mesa Junior College (now Colorado Mesa University) in Grand Junction, Colo., where he earned an associate’s degree in education. Pottorff had visited the school several times while still in high school. “It was close to home,” he said. “So it seemed like a good fit.”
In 1975, he received a bachelor’s degree in physical education and biology from Western State College (now Western State Colorado University) in Gunnison, Colo. Pottorff took his first teaching job at Paonia Junior High in Paonia, Colo., – just down the road from his hometown. “It is like 10 miles up the road from Hotchkiss, so they were our big rivals,” he said. “That was quite a transition.” Pottorff said his first year working was a bit of a challenge. “I taught math and language arts, which were not my major,” he said. “That was my most challenging year.”
The following year, a job opened at the high school in his hometown. Pottorff applied and landed the job. He taught physical education and biology, and also helped coach football, basketball and baseball. “My first year, I had my youngest brother – he was a senior that year,” Pottorff said. “I never had him in classes, but I coached him in baseball.” He also worked with some of his former teachers. “In a small town everybody knows everybody,” Pottorff said. “And then to come back and teach with almost everybody that I had as teachers was very rewarding. I had good relationships with them.” Pottorff stayed at Hotchkiss High School for 11 years, except for a one-year sabbatical from 1982 to 1983 to get his master’s degree at Utah State University.
In 1986, Pottorff applied for a job at Falcon Middle School. “It was time to grow and get away,” he said. “And it was a good match. It was pretty rural. It was small community; small area – kind of like I came from. And that’s what I like about it.”
When Pottorff first came to Falcon, the middle school was located off U.S. Highway 24 and included grades six through nine. The middle school shared the building with a kindergarten and first-grade class because of overcrowding at Falcon Elementary, he said. At that time, Pottorff was just one of two science teachers. “We have six teachers now, and back then we had two for the whole school,” he said. “We had about 300 students in four grades. Now, we have 300 students in one grade. It was really a community then. All the elementary and the middle schools came to the high school games. It is a little bit still that way, but that was true community.”
While he was teaching physical education and science, Pottorff helped coach the football, basketball and track teams.
While he kept busy in his professional life, things changed in his personal life.
In 1989, Pottorff went on a blind date with Pam, a special education teacher from Ellicott. “We had a date or two and then it was a couple years before we ended up getting married,” he said. “But you could just tell it was right.” The couple married June 22, 1991, and eventually adopted two children from the Philippines. Around Christmas 1996 they adopted their daughter, Sierra, who graduated this year from Falcon High School. In 2001, they adopted a son, Landon, who will be an eighth grader at Falcon Middle School this year.
In 1992, Pottorff attended the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to get his degree in administrative leadership. Shortly after he finished his degree, Bill Noxon, the assistant principal at Falcon Middle School, became the principal; which presented an opportunity to Pottorff. He applied and accepted the assistant principal position at FMS. For the next 15 years, Noxon and Pottorff worked together.
In 2005, Noxon retired and Don Bijou became principal. During the fall break in 2006 the high school moved into its new building; and, during the Christmas break, the middle school moved into the former high school off Towner Road. “That was a crazy, fun time,” Pottorff said.
For the remainder of that year only seventh and eighth grade classes were held at FMS, but sixth grade classes were back on board the next fall. “That is where we started really transitioning this school from old Falcon High School to new Falcon Middle,” he said.
From 2009 until 2011, the principal’s office became a revolving door as three other principals filed through. Although Pottorff applied for the position, he has always been content with his role as assistant. “I’m good at this job,” he said. “I’m very comfortable with it.”
His length of service to the school proves his comfort level. After 28 years at FMS, Pottorff plans to retire at the end of this school year. He has many fond memories and has enjoyed watching his classes come full circle. “I have quite of few students who I had their parents,” Pottorff said. “I will have a student, and I will pull out an old picture of their mom or dad.”
Pottorff takes pride in Falcon’s growth – especially the middle school. He said kids have many more opportunities to learn through more teachers and classes.
“The best part of our community is that schools are still the center of our community,” Pottorff said. “My wish would be our state of Colorado would be more supportive of education. The key to our future is our kids.”