Getting to Know: Mr. Wagner

Getting to Know: Mr. Wagner

Jena Forlemu

Mr. Wagner is Irving’s one and only Industrial Tech teacher. He was born in Northeast Lincoln, and is one of seven children! As a child, he attended Huntington Elementary, then Dawes Middle School, and then Waverly Jr/Sr High. He didn’t enroll in college right away but instead worked at a teen summer camp. From there, Mr. Wagner went to UNL where he studied Industrial Technology education. Mr. Wagner and his wife have three daughters- all who attended Irving and are now young adults.


All three of his daughters are Regent Scholars. This is a scholarship given to high school students who score higher than a 32 on the ACT, have a high GPA, and have a high class ranking. Regent Scholars must attend one of Nebraska’s six state universities, and even have the opportunity to get free books, boarding, tuition, or even everything!


A lot of Mr. Wagner’s favorite childhood memories took place at Fremont State Lakes. His family went camping there every weekend. His mom would always make homemade Runzas and he remembers watching them the whole ride there, salivating because he couldn’t eat them until they arrived.


Mr. Wagner’s most fulfilling class in middle school was Industrial Tech and art. Some advice he would give to current middle schoolers is to take school more seriously.


“It is really is your foundation.”


Mr. Wagner played football in 9th grade. He mainly did track, specifically long distance. This is because he prefers individual challenge over team sports.


“I hated school and saw very little value in it”.


He almost dropped out, but industrial tech was seriously the only class that prevented him. He looked up to the teachers and they saw potential in him.


“I loved it! It was hands-on and meaningful. I loved how satisfying it was to build something and see the results.”


As time went on, Mr. Wagner began to see a deeper purpose, interest, and meaning in life.

“Like many young people, I lacked direction and purpose and had no idea where I was going. My older brother and a lifelong friend both challenged me to read the Bible just after high school so I did.”


At first, Mr. Wagner wanted to become a cabinet maker. This was because he likes to build. He later chose the teaching route after he worked at a teen summer camp and later thought, “I’m pretty good at this.” He was even selected for outstanding student teacher! Not only does he like coming to work because of teaching ability, but because he knows he can impact the lives of people and influence them for good.

Art made by Mr. Wagner’s uncle, Walter Wagner. This was published in Irving’s newspaper in November 13, 1942.

Mr. Wagner has several family ties to Irving. His father, Arthur Wagner, attended Irving Junior High. His uncles, David Wagner, and Walter Wagner attended here as well. Walter was also apart of the Irving Newspaper. Mr. Wagner’s grandmother was also the head cook.

Mr. Wagner’s father, Art Wagner. Age: 17. US Navy 1942. Irving class of 1938.

Mr. Wagner didn’t even know about his family’s roots to Irving until after he started working here! In 1990 he worked here for one year and admired Irving’s values. Since he lived in the neighborhood, Mr. Wagner also wanted to teach his children. Not only does he love the middle school curriculum, but he also wanted to teach, lead, and be involved in his own children’s lives.


Mr. Wagner’s father and uncles fought in World War II. This goes to why he is so infatuated with the United State’s constitution, survival, declaration, and founding as a whole.


He also has several hobbies outside of school.


“I enjoy mechanical things so have an interest in diesel engines and building things. I tend to be a fairly organized person so like to find ways to have efficient systems.”


Some other things Mr. Wagner enjoys doing is RVing, or just driving large vehicles in general. He even had a job in the past driving limousines!


One thing he does during the summer is detasseling. He has detasseled for 16 years!


“I really enjoy training young people and watching them go from hesitant and inexperienced to confident and knowledgeable.”

The motto that Mr. Wagner goes by is: “Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.” This was by Martin Luther King Jr. He believes that everyone should work hard, be independent, and do the best quality they could do. Everyone should be successful and take accountability for their finished or unfinished work.


“ITE is a class about work where students must complete their own work to earn their own grade.”


One of Mr. Wagner’s favorite songs is “Lose Yourself to Dance” by Daft Punk. He also loves all three of the Captain America movies.


One thing Mr. Wagner really despises is reading.


“It’s so boring. I can’t sit long.”


On the contrary, his children love reading. Because of how much Mr. Wagner doesn’t like reading, he flipped it and immersed his kids in it. For their baby showers, he had people donate books so they could have a library!


Mr. Wagner has been to many states around the U.S, except Alaska and Hawaii. He is such a safety freak so he doesn’t like traveling out of the country. His favorite vacations are month-long vacations, but he would love to travel for a living.


When asked where he sees himself in 5 years, Mr. Wagner responded with ‘retired’.


“And still working of course… Because I’m young, relatively speaking.”


In 10 years Mr. Wagner hopes he is still alive and drawing checks, hopefully, two.


Not only is Mr. Wagner a great teacher, but his values, hobbies, and roots to Irving make him even more interesting. We are lucky to have him here at Irving.

(Then) Building Trades Shop 1927-1928
(Now) Mr. Wagner’s 6th period class recreating the original photo.