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Mike Nolan

Man wearing blue shirt and red tie

Mike Nolan

An English teacher for 33 years, Mike Nolan taught English in the Oliver W. Winch Junior High and Middle School.

A member of the first class to graduate from the Senior High School on Merritt Road in 1966, Mike went on to the University of Maine and then to the University at Albany, graduating in 1970. After graduate work in education through Plattsburgh State, he joined the South High faculty in 1972.

An outstanding athlete in basketball and track and field for the Bulldogs, Mike coached boys’ and girls’ basketball, cross country and track and field for his alma mater. One of his slogans was “No excuses, do the work,” which many of his former athletes have used as inspiration later in life.

Nominated by a former student, Jenna Herman, Mike had a profound impact on hundreds of students, and continues to inspire his family and friends with his faith and optimism. Diagnosed with lung cancer in 2005, Mr. Nolan sought treatment at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. More than four years after his diagnosis, his doctors point to his continued good health as one of their most prominent success stories.
As is typical of Mike, he and his wife Kris turned his diagnosis and treatment into something positive, starting Faith, Family and Friends, a non-profit organization that supports lung cancer research and patients with the disease.

“Being a former student, I was able to witness Mr. Nolan interact with his students, myself included,” Ms. Herman wrote in her nomination of her former teacher. “He would push you to do your best every time. If you had a problem, Mr. Nolan would work with you and not give up until your problem was fixed and you both were satisfied with the results.

“Mr. Nolan was always trying to get the best out of you. He would always have a smile on his face. If you were upset, he could always change that and put a big smile on your face anytime.”

Mike and Kris have two children, Kari and Sean. Kari and her husband, Dan Ryan, have three children: Mae, Maggie and Mac.

Mike Nolan was a role model for South High students and student-athletes during his 33-year teaching and coaching career, and continues to inspire those around him with his upbeat, positive attitude and appreciation for life. His legacy in this community is one of caring, compassion, hard work and hope.