As you walk into the English hallway and burst into the first classroom on the left you feel a rush of relief that you aren’t sitting the those dreaded chairs waiting to open brown and white textbooks to a text titled Barn Burning. A familiar feeling, that upperclassmen and underclassmen alike can relate to, a feeling that may bring you back all the way to freshman year. As freshman sit and stare around his room they may see a guitar (the famous one you hear every friday) or in between glances through the great big window, they might notice a teacher, Del Schmidt, with a huge bubbly smile, ready to teach the next lesson. As strange as it may seem, he wasn’t always a teacher, but in fact a carpenter.
“When I got into teaching I must’ve had a mid-life crisis or something,” said Schmidt, beloved Ames High english teacher and colleague. “I even student taught under Mr. Webb.”
When young James Webb first encountered Schmidt he was looking for a young, lively practicum student. What he didn’t know was that the 40 year old man with a long ponytail sitting in the office was the man he was looking for.
After being a carpenter for many years, Schmidt desired a change. He once taught a class for another teacher and years later he fell in love with it. At 40 years old he quit his job and went back to college. He believes that this was what he was meant to do.
Building things was cool but he didn’t like the long hours he had as a carpenter and working outside in really cold days. However, carpentry wasn’t all bad for Schmidt. He continues to use some of the important skills he learned while building sets or working on his next project. He appreciates many things about teaching as well. It gives him more of a convenient schedule and he gets to work with all his best friends.
With a similar past passion, Chad Zmolek, sociology teacher, considers himself to be very handy as well. In the past he’s worked in various home construction trades. He worked in this field for over ten years of his life, but realized it wasn’t quite what he wanted. Teaching gives different benefits.
While teaching he appreciates the dialogue between colleagues and students and introducing students into the real world.
However, different passions and past careers don’t set teachers apart. They are all here, doing something they love, knowing who they are and where they’ve come.
As students we yearn for happiness and stability in our lives, finding a place where we feel we belong. Our teachers have found their calling, being here at Ames high. They belong to Ames high as much as us students do.
“My favorite part is working with kids in the classroom and working here,” Schmidt said. “Ames high is truly something special.”