Sitting in the Kindergarten room at St. John Lutheran School in Redwood Falls the afternoon of May 24, Jody Schultz talked about how much she had enjoyed the privilege of being a teacher. One hour had passed since the school year came to an end that day, and soon after Schultz would be walking out of that classroom as a teacher for the final time.
At the end of the 2017-18 school year, Schultz retired.
“I spent 17 years here as a teacher,” said Schultz.
After teaching for two years at Samuel Lutheran school in Marshall, the Schultz family moved to Redwood Falls.
When they moved to town St. John School did not even exist.
“We were here when the vote to approve the school happened,” said Schultz.
Schultz, who grew up in Minnesota, opted to attend Dr. Martin Luther College in New Ulm where she earned a degree in elementary education. Schultz said she found out about the college through her church, adding she had always wanted to be a teacher in a Christian school setting.
“I did the usual things growing up like babysitting and teaching Sunday school,” said Schultz, adding those opportunities provided her with the chance to confirm her desire to work with kids.
“I have always had a desire to work with kids,” she said.
While there was not a teacher in Schultz’ family, she said her mother had always talked about wanting to be a teacher.
Schultz said it was an easy decision to earn a degree that would allow her to teach elementary school students.
“They are definitely my favorite,” said Schultz, who has taught students from preschool through Grade 3. “I like kids who are that age.”
Little children are sweet but they are also honest with you, said Schultz.
“I enjoyed the chance I had to share God’s love with the little children” said Schultz, adding they are very open about their faith.
Just knowing she could be in a school and speak freely about her faith with students was something Schultz appreciated.
Schultz was already living in Redwood Falls when she received a call from St. John School to teach.
What started as a preschool role changed over the years, so that at the time of her retirement Schultz had been working with those students in Kindergarten.
Schultz said she thinks now is the right time to retire, as it will give her the chance to spend more time with her family, including her husband, and their six children and three grandchildren. A couple of her children actually live overseas, which means doing some traveling in the future as well.
It is not only the smiling faces of those children that Schultz will miss but also the adults she has gotten to know in the school over the years.
“The people who work here at the school are a very special group,” said Schultz. “They have been a big part of my life.”
All of the Schultz children attended St. John Lutheran School, and all of them also continued their faith education at the high-school level.
Schultz said she feels very blessed to have been a teacher at St. John Lutheran, adding she has appreciated the connections she has made with the students, the staff and parents.
“I think making those connections is what I am going to miss most,” she said.
Although Schultz said she is stepping away, she did not completely close the door on education, as she is thinking about the possibility of serving as a substitute teacher.
Schultz also said she is hoping to do more gardening and will be finding other hobbies to keep herself busy.
Schultz said being a Kindergarten teacher means being loved by children and having the chance to love them back and to show them the God who loves them.
Just talking about that opportunity, one Schultz took very seriously as an educator, puts a bright smile on her face.