After 36 total years in education, 29 of them teaching at Nevada, Jeff Chisholm is looking forward to having a little more freedom with how he spends his time.
Chisholm, who currently teaches social studies at Nevada High School, will retire at the end of this school year. His time at Nevada has been spent both in the classroom and on the playing fields. He was head baseball coach for Nevada High School from 1990-1998, and he was an assistant football coach for Nevada High School from 1990-2015.
This teaching and coaching career was something Chisholm knew he wanted to do from his own high school years.
“I had (both) a teacher and a coach whom I really looked up to as positive role models, and I thought [teaching] would be something I could do for my future students and athletes,” he said. “My World History/French teacher was a fairly strict instructor, but he made learning engaging and interesting. I really believed he cared about all of us as individuals.”
On the coaching side, “I had a great experience participating in many high school sports and being able to play some college baseball. There is a special bond that can be created between coaches and athletes. With my passion for athletics and my admiration of my many coaches, I wanted to continue to be part of athletics, so coaching was a natural fit,” he said.
Chisholm is a product of the North Central Community School District, which is now called Central Springs. He spent most of his childhood years in Manly.
His career started out at Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock Community Schools in Rockford, where he held positions of head baseball coach, head wrestling coach and assistant and head football coach. From Rockford, he came to Nevada and he’s never regretted his choice of profession.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed working with students in the classroom and in athletics. To see a student or athlete who has struggled in class or on the field, and then eventually experiences success through his or her hard work is really awesome to witness,” he said.
He’s been able to enjoy the friendships he’s created with former students. “I enjoy conversing with them about their accomplishments as adults,” he said.
Chisholm is also a father, who had the unique opportunity of teaching and coaching his own children. “That has also been very special to me,” he said. All three of his children and his son-in-law graduated from Nevada High School and the University of Iowa.
“My daughter, Alissa, and her husband, Marc, live in Coralville with their three children, Lily (8), Frankie (5) and Violet (2). Alissa is a child psychologist working at the University of Iowa Belin Blank Center. Marc is a physician’s assistant in family medicine at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Brad is an independent contractor working for Iron Man World Triathlon and other race companies. Mike, the youngest, lives in St. Louis Park, Minn., and is employed in Cigna Behavioral Health’s Community Support Program, located in Minneapolis.”
Chisholm has been married to his wife, Lorrie, for longer than he’s been teaching, almost 37 years. “She has been in the same position as a nurse working for a Family Medical Clinic in Ames since we moved here in 1990,” he noted.
As he reflects on the changes and challenges in the teaching profession, Chisholm said the largest change has to do with technology in the classroom.
“Technology has vastly increased ease of obtaining information, but it also has created issues with what information on the Internet is truly reliable,” he said. ” My undergrad training taught us to be disseminators of information to our students. In the ’90s, I learned more about cooperative learning and the importance of students collaborating with one another. That collaboration has continued to be an important part of the educational process. Today, the emphasis is placed not only on collaboration, but students becoming more responsible for their learning. My role has somewhat evolved to not only teaching but also helping facilitate students’ own learning.”
The greatest challenge he’s faced, he admitted, “It’s not easy to say.” But one of the biggest challenges he has experienced relates to working with a few students “who experience major apathy, or sometimes parents who I wish would be more supportive of what we are trying to do in educating their children.”
Another challenge, he noted, has been trying to keep up with all of the rapid changes in teaching methods and technology, and seemingly jumping from one teaching trend to another.
Thankfully, Chisholm’s made his way through it all over the years. He said he always wanted for his students to be involved and become successful contributing members of society. He is hopeful that he, as an educator, and Nevada Schools as a district, have given students the groundwork needed to be successful.
“I think most students would remember that I did care about them, that I had a sense of humor and that I truly enjoyed having them in class,” he said.
“To my former athletes, I think they would say that I tried to teach them not only fundamentals, but also how to respond to success and failure. I always stressed that attitude and effort were about the only things that a person can truly control, whether in athletics or in the classroom.”
Chisholm said he is appreciative and blessed with the friendships he’s made over the years with many colleagues. “They have guided me, have laughed and commiserated with me, and they are one of the reasons I looked forward to coming to work…”
Now, he looks forward to a little more free time. He hopes to have the time to see his children and grandchildren more often. He admitted he has no definite plans for his retirement but is considering finding a part-time job to keep himself busy. “If anyone has any ideas, just let me know,” he said with a smile.
To teachers and coaches coming into the profession now, Chisholm offers this advice: “Take one day at a time…be prepared…seek out assistance and advice from mentors and other veteran teachers.”
Teachers who are new to Nevada or coming to Nevada won’t go wrong if they have the experience that Chisholm has had. “My wife and I have raised three children here. They all thrived here through the school system and are continuing to thrive in their adult lives. We are appreciative of all the opportunities that our children and ourselves have had in this community.”