Retiring award-winning art teacher Mr. Jim Herold with student teacher Sean Sauter. Photo by Paul J. Seeling
Retiring award-winning art teacher Mr. Jim Herold with student teacher Sean Sauter. Photo by Paul J. Seeling

SPRING VALLEY, WI – Last week in Part I of this article we did confirm 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.

Jim Herold as he spoke to this reporter for an interview for the Sun-Argus and Gateway News while starting to pack up things in his art classroom Jim is preparing to retire after a rewarding and distinguished career in teaching and coaching at the end of this school year.

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 we got to know a bit about Jim Herold and some of his many accomplishments. This week we will continue this interesting interview with Mr. Jim Herold and he will discuss the “good and bad” about teaching in the State of Wisconsin.

“The good is the 37 years; I’ve had a good ride here and I was treated well!” he stated as he continued to elaborate on the “good.”

“I was able to experiment with teaching. It was exciting seeing some of my ideas succeed and some not. There was a real bonus to see some ideas really worked,” Herold said with a broad grin.

Herold stated that it was an honor to get recognized for ideas that work, which is fine and dandy. But no one really cares about that. As a science teacher I was teaching S.T.E.M. and S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, English, Art and Math) in the 80’s before it was a big thing as it is now.

In my opinion the most important thing is helping the kids to believe in themselves.

So often they are told, “This is the right answer.”

“No.” Mr. Herold believes that what the students need is open-ended divergent thinking.

“I’ve had a good time here when things are going well. But in this case, there is a reality check,” he said.

Jim Herold is worried about the next 37 years here… “The climate for education in this state is not good,” he stated. He spoke glowingly that Wisconsin used to be first in the nation for education.

He feels that while the teachers in any given school are doing their best the state is damaging our schools.

“In 37 years, I’ve helped a lot of student teachers and sadly now the trend is that they are leaving for Minnesota or other states. Or they are leaving education altogether. Some stay,” he conveyed to this reporter.

“Some people (citizens not in education) believe that is okay and they vote that way. But our young people are voting with their feet and leaving the state of Wisconsin or education. Or they are taking their education with them to other states. So many are leaving…a whole generation believes teaching is a profession that won’t pay the bills,” said Mr. Herold sadly.

“That is such a loss. This is such an amazing job, to spend time with other people’s kids is all so cool, in so many ways,” he lamented as we left the topic of the “Good and the Bad” of the current trend occurring in teaching in Wisconsin.

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

Let’s pick it up from here next week in the concluding article, where we will also get some thoughts from former Herold student and now associate, who will be taking over the art department next year, Mrs. Becky Leland (Wood).