Joe Arts has led a life of dedication to his community and he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year. For many former students of Troy, he stands out as one of the best and he brought so much joy while teaching for 33 years before he retired in 2006. When Mr. Arts first started, corporal punishment was still used in schools. The Troy High School principal at the time, Dave Stevenson, had a son, Brent who made Joe his paddle. He wasn’t a big fan of using it, and over the years it turned into his ‘birthday paddle.’ Students would get to sign it, get a toy, and hand out candy on their birthday.
“I wasn’t thinking about how I would make a lasting impact on their life, it was just natural for me to make them feel special,” Joe told The Montanian. The paddle is now framed and hanging in Main Street Perk. Joe holds it in the photo below. When asked what his favorite thing about teaching was, the answer was simple “the kids,” and the kids saw him as their favorite too. In fact, many still do.
Here are a few messages from people that want to say thank you:
Mr. Arts was my third grade teacher years ago – and even though it was years ago, I still remember so much about it. He made class so much fun and memorable. In his class we – tried ostrich jerky, alligator jerky, and a pizza with octopus on it! I will never forget the adventures he took us on without even leaving the classroom. He made learning so much fun and his laugh is one that I will never forget. Cheers to you, Mr. Arts – you have made such an impact and such an imprint on the lives of the students you have taught and invested in! A simple ‘thank you’ doesn’t seem like enough! We are so lucky to have been taught by you!”
“”Joe Arts was my fourth grade teacher when he was fairly new to Troy. I loved him. Learning was fun. We learned a lot about how to get along and treat each other. He was also my son’s second grade teacher, and as a family we were going through a hard time. He was very patient, kind, and a shoulder for him. His classroom was still the same fun all those years later.”
“He was my bus driver from first grade until third grade on Bull Lake Highway. I was his most problematic kid. Meaning he put me in the seat behind him pretty much for the three years I rode the bus. One time early on, I got off the bus and went behind it and crossed the road to get home. He turned the bus around and pulled up right next to me and gave me a chewing about how I was only to cross in front of the bus. That was the only way he could see me and keep me safe, and if something happened to one of his kids he would never forgive himself. From then on I knew better, and always made sure I crossed with his okay in front of the bus. He loved us kids, even when some of us were naughty little ones at times. He always had fun jokes, inventor of the original dad jokes at times, and he was always a big cheerleader for us. I remember spelling test days him being just as excited as we were for passing with perfect scores. Moving away was hard because I would never have him as a teacher like I wanted. He was so much fun and I wish I hadn’t been such a naughty kid, I must have given him many grey hairs through those years.”
“He was my FAVORITE teacher. Always made sure you felt confident and comfortable when you learned something. Best part was the full size candy bars he let you
choose from when you got 100% on one of his tests. I’m sure most people agree with me…he was a fantastic teacher.”
Joe Arts was my fourth grade teacher a very long time ago. He made our classes fun and interesting. He always made his students feel welcome in his classroom and he had a wonderful way of making everyone smile. He was one of my favorite teachers!”
“I had the best third grade teacher. Like the very best. He is the first person that noticed that every other letter of my name spells cute. He made me more comfortable with my broken nose after I got hit with a baseball bat, and I later did TA in his room. Mr. Joe Arts, I love you! Thank you for being such a huge part of my childhood and my adulthood. No one ever was nor ever will be like you. You are one of a kind and I am going to miss you so much!”
“Well they wanted me to say things about Joe Arts, he is a good friend of ours. He came into Troy years ago and he taught one of our kids four times and a whole bunch of kids in the community. To this day he calls the kids ‘his kids’ and the ones he taught, he is always proud of them all. Joe has a heart of gold and would help anybody. We started the Troy Cruzers Car Club, helping each other build cars over the years. Along with many friends working on cars and trucks together, a lot of time spent in the garage. Whenever you are riding with Joe he is always waving at just about everybody. There is so much good in him.”
“I don’t know where to begin. Mr. Arts was my afternoon bus driver from first through sixth grade. He was also my third grade teacher. He always brought a smile to my face and pretty much everyone around him. His all-of-the-time joy brought the best out of the children and their parents. He would buy toys for all of us to win as prizes for achieving certain things such as winning the class spelling bee or even good behavior. I always felt like he was teaching to earn money that he would just turn around and use for stuff in the classroom. He also liked to share some of the more odd foods you can eat such as maggots, limburger cheese, or squid pizza. I probably wouldn’t have dared to try them had he not eaten them with us! He always thinks of others above himself. The world would be a much better place if there were more people like Mr. Arts. He has made a huge impact on my life. I am so grateful to have him in my life for many years.”
“He was my fourth grade teacher. Loved him. He always took time to ensure his students were learning. He always went out of his way to make sure you had all the steps down and were prepared to advance to the next grade. Every student was personal to him. He is a great man.”
I didn’t have Mr. Arts as a teacher growing up, my sister did. I was home schooled before getting to him. That being said, I’ve always had the greatest respect for him. He is one of the few teachers who didn’t snub us or treat us differently because we weren’t in public school. That’s so important to kids, and I just want to tell him “Thank you!”