Mr.Mooney: Around the World in 37 Years and Counting

2021 Staff Retirement

A face that has been recognizable since the 80s, and teaching Ames High about “old, dead white guys” is retiring this year. If you haven’t guessed it already, I am talking about Mr. Mooney, who has been here for a long time, yet his life story is one that took him around the world and brought him back to AHS.

Mooney first started his teaching career in 1984 as a student teacher for a semester at AHS, teaching US History. He said ¨I was really attracted to the diversity of students in the high school, and the intellectual ability of students, the curiosity, the energy.¨ He proceeded to coach (assistant track coach and head gymnastics coach) and subbed for a year. He went on to move to Uganda for 3 years, to really see and understand the world for what it is, and how it contrasted with America. He then came to Davenport in the fall of 1989 and taught for 10 years, and proceeded to get a masters in African studies.

Mooney and his wife decided to quit their teaching jobs there and move to a place called Torréon in Mexico. He taught in a university meant to educate upper income Mexican students who are planning on studying in an American University. He ¨fell in love¨ with the culture and country, part of the reason why he wants to buy a vacation home in New Mexico in Las Cruces. After teaching in Mexico for a year, he came to Ames in 2001 and has been teaching since.

His most cherished memories are those of Uganda and APUSH, and he enjoyed teaching resistance movements with Mr.Webb.  APUSH is his favorite due to the energy that the other students bring in with their dynamic discussion and how the students really build off one another.

Mooney plans on taking an 8 month sabbatical, and has bought a vacation house for him and his wife in New Mexico, and he plans to spend the winters there. He loves the state of New Mexico and believes that it has an amazing Mexican Vibe. 

But perhaps the most interesting thing he has planned for retirement is that he wants to work at Burgies Coffee on Bloomington Road at Ames. He wishes to work there due to it being a great location, he can see some familiar faces, and his immense love of coffee brought on by his experiences in Uganda, He also mentioned his desire to become manager of the location in the near future.

This was merely a small glimpse into a deep and thoughtful conversation I had with Mooney, but if you ever see him at Burgies, ask him if he could put an APUSH fact on your cup. Thank you so much for everything you have done and helping Ames High to stick to their motto, ¨Ames High, Aims High¨! 


Here is a link to a PDF of Mooney´s parting words of wisdom. This PDF contains so much information about his life experiences that it would be a crime to try and give an interpretation when it is really laid out quite beautifully.