Leaving a Legacy


Liam Struck, Reporter

Kirk Schmaltz is now passing the baton after 40 years of teaching. Schmaltz has spent 35 years of his life teaching at Ames High. And while he modestly claims that he was at the right place at the right time, his achievements say different.

Boasting an impressive amount of time coaching sports, Schmaltz has spent 35 years as head coach of the Girls Cross Country team, coached wrestling for 15 years, softball for 10 years and was also the assistant coach on the track team from 1983 to 2002. Schmaltz then became the head coach from 2002 to 2017.

Schmaltz holds on to an impressive number of rewards and has even been given the honor of being named Coach of the Year twice. “I’ve been very fortunate to receive several coaching awards because I was in the right place at the right time,” Schmaltz said. “I had great support from the administration. I had great parental support, and most importantly, I had great athletes to coach.”

Schmaltz has taught physical science, health and biology but said he has enjoyed teaching biology the most. He describes his intimate relationship with biology: “I was a biology major. And while I enjoyed all of my teaching experiences, biology was my first love.” Besides coaching, Schmaltz has also been very active in his students’ education.

Schmaltz has always prioritized his students’ academics over their athletic performance. He viewed each and every one of his students with great potential and treated them with respect. If you haven’t had Schmaltz as a teacher or a coach, you might not be familiar with his use of the words “thank you” throughout each lesson. Every day he says, “thank you,” either to the class or a specific student he has seen who has been trying especially hard to either catch up or improve immensely. “I try to tell all my athletes and all of my students it doesn’t take very long to say thank you, and so I wanted to thank my students on a daily basis; I wanted to tell them thank you for trying. I wanted to leave my students feeling good about themselves, even if it wasn’t your favorite lesson, I still want to thank you for trying.”

When most teachers retire, their immediate plans consist of big vacations, buying a timeshare or spending as much time in isolation as possible, but not Mr.Schmaltz. “I would like to give back,” Schmaltz said. “The Ames community has been wonderful to my family. My two girls got an excellent education at Ames High School, my wife (business teacher Rhonda Schmaltz) had an opportunity to also teach at Ames High School, and we really feel like we’ve been a part of this community. And we have received a lot of gifts from this community, and now it’s time to give back to the community.”

It doesn’t take very long to say thank you. Thank you for everything you’ve done, Mr. Schmaltz.