After 34 years, Schmidt readies for freedom

Unlike others, students of room 256 are not as excited for school to end. They don’t want to face the reality of their beloved teacher walking out the doors of Cedar Falls High School once more; but this time, for longer than it has ever been in the past 33 years.

Although social studies, specifically history and government, are known as boring classes amongst some students, it is nearly impossible not to hear the endless laughter that rises from further down on the social studies hallway in Robert Schmidt’s room.

“Schmidt really cared about the material and his students. He was really fun to be around in the classroom and would always joke around with us. It was obvious that he had been teaching for a long time, had a lot of funny stories to tell us and wisdom to offer us,” senior Elise Leasure said.

Schmidt has been teaching at the Cedar Falls High School since 1985 and has coached many sports teams such as track and women’s cross country, which resulted with a state championship in 1996.

Not only was he successful in coaching sports teams, but Schmidt also has very strong bonds and many memories with his students that he says he will dearly miss with tears filling his eyes.

“Best memories? Working with students, no doubt. I coached a lot of sports here at CF for a lot of years. I’ll really miss the relationship with the students because at the end of the day, if you’re a good teacher, you establish trust with your students. You establish respect. I really like working with young people. I will dearly miss that,” Schmidt said.

Although Schmidt states that there hasn’t been a lot of change besides the expectations of students over the years he has been teaching, other staff and students strongly agree on the positive changes and contributions he has done to improve the quality of Cedar Falls High School.

“Mr. Schmidt has been an amazing asset to our department because of his great number of years of experience and his interesting perspectives on all things such as U.S history and American government,” social studies teacher Traci Lake said.

Students note that even after 33 years, his teaching methods, like handing out suckers, are never boring, and he is up on the board passionately giving lectures about the United States in ways that make students love his class.

“Although I only took his class for a semester, I can gladly say that Mr. Schmidt is my favorite history teacher so far. The way he teaches the class is so enjoyable and inviting to learning new stuff,” sophomore Collin Bohnenkamp said.

Being this attached to his students and classroom, as good as that is, it also makes it harder for Schmidt to leave his classroom and students. Although it is hard and some adjustments needs to be made, Schmidt says he feels good about his decision.

“It will be really hard to adjust to leaving. This has been my whole life, my world. I’ve been teaching at CF for 33 years. I’ve been a senior in high school my whole life. I’m not naive, of course. There will be some adjustments made, but I feel very content about my decision,” Schmidt said.

Although he isn’t going to be around as often, Schmidt said he won’t lose contact with the school or his students. He has not quite decided if he is going to sub, but he committed himself to many other things that will help stay in contact and follow up on the school and students.

“I don’t think I’ll ever lose quite contact. I’ve already committed to still doing the public address at the basketball games and the football games. I may substitute some day down the line, but it’s not in my plans right now. In a community like Cedar Falls, you interact with a lot of people, and I’ll see students. I will always be interested in what they’ve accomplished and what they chose to do,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt’s spouse, who is also a teacher at Lincoln Elementary School, is going to be teaching still, which Schmidt does not see as an obstacle for him to achieve his plans and complete his goals during his free time.

“I plan on not worrying about lesson plans on Sunday nights. I plan on getting up in the morning and doing whatever I want. I like to travel. I like to read. I love sports, and I love my three little grandchildren. I’m gonna get more time to spend with them,” Schmidt said.

It may seem enough of a freedom for a teacher to not having to plan lessons and go through the same routine every day, but Schmidt is open to new adventures and has exciting goals, some he never tried before, in his agenda.

“First of all, I am going to take a baseball trip this fall, which I have never done. I’m going to travel to see my grandchildren on their school days. Every day is going to be a new adventure, and I am looking forward for the freedom,” Schmidt said.

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