Biology teacher plans to retire after teaching for 46 years

Biology teacher John Black

Biology teacher John Black

Next in the line of a slew of CFHS staff moving on for next year, biology teacher John Black has announced his retirement, or, as he likes to call it, “transition.” Whatever its title, Mr. Black definitely deserves it: this year marks his 46th year of teaching high school biology.

Mr. Black received his B.S. at UNI and his M.S. at Northern Illinois University, and he served as a graduate teaching assistant at Northern Illinois for one year. He then taught at Monticello High School for 35 years.

After that particular “transition,” he and his wife Patricia (who now teaches Spanish here) moved their children, Maria (’13) and current senior Carlos, to Argentina to get to know Mrs. Black’s relatives and learn some of the Argentinian culture. “It was very successful three years,” Mr. Black said.

While in Argentina, Mr. Black taught biology in English at a bilingual high school. After that, the Blacks moved back to Cedar Falls, where Mr. Black has taught for six years now. The first year he did a lot of substitute teaching, including a long-term subbing for fellow science teacher Marcey Hand’s maternity leave. The next year, Mr. Black was brought on as a full-time science teacher.

Mr. Black said he has always enjoyed science, but he did not always plan to teach. “I was always interested in insects,” Mr. Black said. His father had experience as a veterinarian assistant, so Mr. Black intended to study pre-veterinary medicine at UNI. However, his brother was a teacher, and Mr. Black liked that direction as well, so instead of a vet, he became a biology teacher.

Despite his obvious passion for science, Mr. Black acknowledges that after 46 years of teaching, it’s time to move on. In the future he plans to do some more substitute teaching, hone his photography skills and do some conservation work.

Throughout his time here, Mr. Black has most enjoyed his interaction with the staff. Because Cedar Falls High School has four other biology teachers, Mr. Black loves being able to share ideas with other teachers, something he was not able to do at his former schools. Mr. Black also enjoys the universal positives of interacting with students.

Mr. Black is just one of many staff leaving CFHS this year, yet he is optimistic about the the future of the high school. “My attitude is, we’ll be missed, but others step in, and they’ll fit in quite well.”

The high school was lucky, however, to have found a teacher with such a deeply invested interest in his subject. Mr. Black has some advice for students interested in science and education, too: “Develop a passion for it,” he said.

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