A Conversation with Mike Bukovsky
Great Starts Honoree 2024


What school year did you graduate from Eisenhower Junior High?

I graduated in 1979.

What grades did you attend in District 61?

I attended K-6th grade at Hinsbrook School (later renamed Mark DeLay) and then
7th and 8th grades at EJH.

Please let us know any special memories of your time spent at Hinsbrook and Eisenhower Junior High.

At Hinsbrook I enjoyed the rooftop “egg drop” science experiment, and Mr. Swenson’s social studies class. I also enjoyed football with Mr. Swenson and Mr. Feind. I also remember the Christmas concerts, band lessons in the soundproof glass room, the playground at recess, sledding on the big hill behind the school and being in the school musical “My Fair Lady.” I also remember when we found out our student teacher, Ms. Kelly, was going to be hired as a full-time teacher the next year, and we were all excited. I don’t want to leave anyone out as I had so many good teachers like Mrs. Homme, Mrs. Zimmerman, Ms. Nordstrom, and Mrs. Narimore. I also remember our principal, Mr. Johnson, was very friendly and seemed to really care about the students. I also remember Mrs. Brown, the school nurse, who was always very kind to me when I was sick and wanted to go home from school.

At EJH I remember the Washington, D.C., trip, and Mr. Bradford was one of the best math teachers I ever had. I also remember Mr. Vann’s science class, Mr. Havelka’s English class, Mr. Lungren’s industrial arts class and social studies with Mrs. Rodkin and Mr. Gormley. I remember being a part of championship football and wrestling teams and also being part of “The Music Man”  production. I also was fortunate to have other great teachers like Mr. Hearn, Mr. Haefel, Mrs. Krupicka, Mr. Larson, Mrs. Schuh and Ms. Reed. Mr. Nothacker was very approachable and always had a smile as our principal. I never had Mrs. Lyman in class, but she was always nice to me around the neighborhood and I had many interactions with her as I got older.

Who were some of the memorable teachers you had and why?

Mr. Swenson was an awesome guy, who went out of his way to help me when I was a very shy and unsure kid. He always made school fun, and always seemed to have time for me, and understand me. I realized later in life he was a big influence in me choosing teaching as a profession. Mr. Havelka was one of my football and softball coaches at EJH. He was a fair coach and helped me work harder to become better. I later came back to EJH when I was in college and did some of my student teaching observation hours with him. He was a very successful high school coach, and I always liked to pick his brain about things and get his perspective. Mr. Pederson introduced me to wrestling in 6th grade. Even though I was one of the worst guys on the team, he coached me like he coached the best guys on the team. That always stuck with me and became a huge part of my teaching and coaching philosophy. I was a member of several organizations with him, saw him numerous times a year, and kept in touch with him up until his sudden passing a few months ago. Right before he passed, he wrote me a great letter congratulating me on my induction into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

What clubs, sports or extracurricular activities were you involved in?

At Hinsbrook I was involved in band and football, and at EJH I ran cross country in 7th grade and played football in 8th grade. I wrestled in 7th and 8th grade and also played softball both years. I was in the marching band in 7th grade and was also in the musical.

Did you receive any special recognition or awards, or are proud of any personal accomplishments in school?

I don’t remember any special awards, just a typical student!

If you could say anything to the current students of Darien District 61, what would that be?

Stay positive, and don’t get down if things don’t always go your way. Listen to your teachers because they have your best interest in mind. You are all very fortunate to be in great schools with people who really care about you.

Tell us a little bit about yourself

When were you born?

I was born May 23, 1965

What is your full name?

Michael Joseph Bukovsky

Where did you live when you attended school in District 61?

I lived in Hinsbrook subdivision near the corner of 69th and Bentley.

Where do you live now?

I live in Lombard, IL.

What are some of your accomplishments and noteworthy activities since leaving District 61?

– Graduated from North Central College and will be starting my 36th year in education this fall.
– Starting my 31st year at Montini Catholic High School, currently serving as Admissions Director
– Won the LaSallian Educator of the Year Award (2009)
– Won the Faculty, Staff Dedication Award (2024)
– Three-time Illinois High School Wresting Coach of the Year
– Named National High School Wrestling Coach of the Year (2009)
– Named Chicago Bears High School Football Coach of the Week (2018)
– Two-time Illinois High School Softball Coach of the Year
– Named Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association “Man of the Year” (2010)
– Presented with the Lifetime Service Award to Wrestling (2020)
– Inducted into Montini Catholic High School Hall of Fame
– Inducted into Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Hall of Fame (2008)
– Inducted into National Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame in Stillwater, OK (2024)
– Inducted into Chicagoland 16” Softball Hall of Fame (Team Induction)
– Have Coached 16 High School State Championship teams

What are your current involvements?

Currently Director of Admissions, Head Football Coach, Head Wrestling Coach, and Assistant Softball Coach at Montini.  I love reading, watching sports and old movies.

Are you Married? Children?

I am married to my wife Debora and we have a daughter Amy.

Anything else you would like to share with us?

I am very fortunate and humbled to be receiving this award. I realize that I had a great childhood and was given the gift of an awesome foundation from so many impactful teachers and  administrators in District 61.  I am truly blessed!