After 40 years, English department head makes this her last year

Rumors are all too common in the halls of CFHS, but few rumors garner so much reaction or emotion as one that unraveled a few weeks ago. Putting speculation to rest, English teacher and department head Judy Timmins has announced her retirement at the end of this school year, after 40 years of teaching.

English teacher Judy Timmins will retire at the end of the year.

English teacher Judy Timmins will retire at the end of the year.

Timmins attended UNI, earning her B.A. in a Spanish and English double major and her M.A. in English. Timmins didn’t even know she want to be a teacher. She was set on being a pediatrician, but her sister talked her out of that, so she decided to pursue Spanish, which she had taken from eighth grade through 12th grade. The logical course of action for a Spanish major was teaching, and Timmins double majored in English in order to be more marketable.

She started her career teaching Spanish at West High School, but after two years, the enrollment in foreign languages was so low that she could no longer teach there. She then taught ninth grade English at Logan Middle School for one year before coming to Cedar Falls High School where she has been ever since. At first, she missed teaching Spanish, but she continues to speak a little in her English classes, when the situation may arise, and English always provided her with something new. Timmins particularly noted the variety of literature texts she can choose from for teaching and also experiencing the myriad ways a student can respond to one piece of literature.

After 40 years, however, Timmins acknowledges that the paper load that comes from teaching is just too much. With teaching all day and grading papers all night and every weekend, she barely has any spare time at all.

But retirement surely won’t mean boredom for her. She looks forward to spending time with her family, as she already has one grandchild “and two more on the road.” She also plans to travel and simply relax. “I’m going to read a whole lot of books for me,” Timmins said.

Timmins has brought an amazing impact over the years.  When students write papers, she will not award the paper a final grade until the student had corrected every mistake — on their own. Timmins was always willing to help a student, but never gave answers outright, and she demanded both punctuality and quality. Many students may recognize her mantra: “You will pay now or you will pay later, but you will pay.”

Despite her demand for excellence, students know that Timmins cares about them. “It doesn’t matter what you do, she wants you to have a nice time,” senior Taylor Horvatich said.

Timmins urges students to take advantage of their experiences and opportunities, both at Cedar Falls High School and elsewhere. “Do whatever you can to prepare yourself for whatever you think you might want to do,” she said.

For students who think they may want to go into teaching, Timmins advised, “You need to have a sense of humor.”

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