'It's not about us it's about the kids,' said retiring SVMH art teacher Jim Herold pictured here with Elementary School and soon to be SVMH Art Teacher Becky Leland at the Filling Empty Bowls fundraiser. Gateway News file photo by Paul J. Seeling
'It's not about us it's about the kids,' said retiring SVMH art teacher Jim Herold pictured here with Elementary School and soon to be SVMH Art Teacher Becky Leland at the Filling Empty Bowls fundraiser. Gateway News file photo by Paul J. Seeling

SPRING VALLEY, WI – Last week in Part II of this series of articles we did confirm again that it is true that award-winning instructor and coach Mr. Jim Herold is retiring after teaching for 37 years at Spring Valley Middle/High School.

The interview took place on Friday, April 27 during a morning class period that was being taught by student teacher Sean Sauter of Roseville, Minnesota. It was fun to spend the time talking with Mr. Herold; the interview with this amazing creative man was wide-ranging.

Last week here in the Sun-Argus Jim Herold shared the “good” about his teaching career and the “bad” currently about teaching in Wisconsin. Mr. Herold did say, “The good is the 37 years; I’ve had a good ride here and I was treated well!”

This week we will conclude this interesting interview with Mr. Jim Herold as he discusses Cross County (X-C) running, coaching the Girls State Championship Team and top runner and his future.

I had to ask Jim about Cross-Country racing and he told me about his coach in 7th grade PhyEd, Mr. Michael Kjos in Hopkins, Minnesota who didn’t teach football, basketball or baseball.

He pulled me out of class one day and said, “You’re gonna run a mile.”

“Well, I never had, but I ran it in 4:50. I learned there was a sport you can run in, and I never lost a race, except one where I couldn’t handle a corner,” said Mr. Herold grinning. “But the opposing team coach taught me how to do it and I’ve used it coaching Cross Country here at Spring Valley,” he said with a wry smile.

He started the X-C team at Spring Valley when his daughter Caitlyn was interested. The team started with one and grew to 30. Initially it was a bad team, they used a calendar for timing (meaning they were quite slow), but “We had fun,” said the State Championship coach.

Mr. Herold said, “Not every coach agrees, but going out for a sport is about learning to be with other people and having fun,” he continued saying, “Its not how much time you put into something, you don’t get what you expect. If you don’t get results you want to move.”

He reported that some of the sophomore girls on the Spring Valley X-C team went down to watch the State Meet with Wendy Arneson and decided they wanted to go to State and be a Championship team.

“Riley Bowman said she wanted one of these things (pointing to the First Place Championship trophy)…it brought up the girls to be a stronger team,” said Coach Herold.

“We had 10 powerhouse runners,” he recalled with a wide grin and a twinkle in his eye.

That team did indeed have 10 powerhouse runners and one of them would go on to be a UMD Team Captain for the Women’s Track and Field Team competing in the NCAA Division II Indoor and Outdoor Championships. She was an eight-time All American. She was a three-time NCAA DII National Champion Runner-Up, including the 2017 steeplechase second place finisher. She graduated in 2017 with a degree in Physical Education.

“I saw it in ‘Beanner,’ Brianna Colbenson the first day she ran in 7th grade. I checked her pulse and there were no elevated levels,” Coach Herold stated.

“That’s our future, our Champ,” he exclaimed at the time.

Understanding the biology and what would be best for ‘Beanner’ Coach Herold didn’t push her and didn’t allow her to overextend, which she might have done.

Brianna Colbinson is now Mrs. Sieracki a professional runner for Team USA in Minnesota who teaches PhyEd, but doesn’t teach football, basketball or baseball.

Mr. Jim Herold is confident he is leaving his position and the art department at Spring Valley in good hands to Mrs. Becky (Wood) Leland a former student and associate who has been teaching art at Spring Valley Elementary School and will now move up to the Middle/High School and heading the Art Department Mr Herold is leaving behind.

When asked for a few comments about her former teacher and associate Mrs. Leland said, “From the day I met Jim Herold, he has been an inspiration to me. In high school I was part of all of his art clubs and events, but in reality, it wasn't about the competitions (the department did win 17 Art Championships in a row) or the groups that he offered, it was about him. Take one look into his classroom, and you know Jim Herold loves to teach. His passion and his personality are contagious! He has a gift for helping people accomplish more than they thought they could. He is undoubtedly, one of the reasons I went into Art Education in the first place.” 

Becky Leland didn’t stop with those thoughts and accolades for Jim Herold and concluded with this, “All these years later I'm having just as much fun in his art room, except these four years he has been my mentor and co-worker. The coolest part is that he still has that passion and contagious ambition that never ceases to amaze me. He's a great listener, willing to share insights and ideas and inspires people around him. It's bittersweet imagining the high school art room without Jim Herold there next year. I am excited for him and all the possibilities he will have in these upcoming years, but I am going to miss him more than I can say.”

When asked what he planned to do now Mr. Herold paused a moment and smiled and said, “I like freedom and will do what I want to do like when I was 21. Now I will have family time, walk the dog. I will continue to teach American Sign Language one night a week at UW-Stout and work on my pottery. I will have time to be there for my daughter Caitlyn.

I don’t know, I know I like cookies, Shirley Colbenson makes the best oatmeal cookies…I regret I didn’t get to know the teachers on the south end of the building better…I do know the cooks real well and will miss them and the teachers on this end of the building very much.”

Thanks for your time for this interview Jim and all the best to you in your well-earned retirement!