Mr. Schmidt: The Road Home

2021 Staff Retirement


Mr. Schmidt

Leaning on one of the round tables that vertically furnish the English halls, Mr. Schmidt smiles at the students passing while simultaneously congregating with his neighbors: Mr. Ripley, Mrs. Engelkes, and Mr. Webb. This familiar scene among the English department won’t look the same in the years to come. 

Mr. Schmidt may know a few rules of acting, but he is no actor in his job. For him, a favorite memory has been “in general, hanging out with the English department; we’ve all been really close,” Mr. Schmidt said. “Just the day to day hanging out with students and you know, being in the halls.”

It was back in 2003- a time when the majority of students here at Ames were just opening their eyes on this earth- that Mr. Schmidt began his first day of teaching at Ames High School. He fondly recalls, “I know that I was nervous and excited. I guess on that first day you just hope you don’t screw up too badly. I hope that I bonded with the kids really well, which I did.” 

”We didn’t have computers when I started; everything was paper and pencil. In a lot of respects it was simpler. One of the reasons I’m retiring is I just can’t keep up with the technology. I’m not a big technology guy and keeping up with the latest teaching trends and technology and everything are things that I’ve had trouble doing, and I don’t necessarily agree with all either. It’s changed a lot over the years.”

Retiring, you heard that right. Mr. Schmidt is stepping off the road of teaching after 18 years. Aside from the classes he taught this year (AP Lang & Comp, English 9 Lit, Drama, and Survey of Literature), he famously taught Honors English 9 before it got erased. Those who previously enrolled in Honors English 9 may recall failing the “Barn Burning” quiz and the Fridays Mr. Schmidt would pull out a guitar and sing. “Take Me Home, Country Roads” was a fan favorite. “The Honors 9 class was my favorite class. I was sad to see it go,” Mr. Schmidt said.

Among his literary advice that everyone should apply, Mr. Schmidt provides some last words of additional advice. “Get rid of your phone! Get outside and throw away your phones and question authority. Challenge the status quo. This country, I feel like it’s in trouble and we need young people to bail us out. Us old folks have messed it up big time.”

And so, at the school year’s end, Mr. Schmidt will pack up his guitar, perhaps leave behind his electronic devices, and escape to the country roads (or the comfort of his house). His plans for the future include working on house projects (since he had been a carpenter prior to becoming a teacher), fixing up his property with his wife, and simply traveling. 

Mr. Schmidt remarked, “As far as teaching high school, this has been my only job and I’ll always love Ames High. Being part of drama and directing plays has been huge and I’ve had a lot of good memories from that too. It’s been a great place to work for sure.”