After 45 years, Kolbeck joins husband in retirement

At the end of her 45th year of teaching, 24 in Cedar Falls High School, special needs skills teacher Judy Kolbeck is leaving for retirement.

Most of the students may not even know where her classroom is, but everyone has heard of her kindness and compassion toward students and her record that she is holding.

Kolbeck has a really busy schedule like being located in five different skills classrooms on each floor of the building, and over the years she has worked for at least 11 teachers, which after a while she lost track of, yet she still makes time to spend one-on-one time with students and help them get over their struggles together.

“Working for several years with Mrs. Kolbeck as a co-teacher, she did a wonderful job of working with students, one-on-one, that were struggling with what we were doing. Her compassion to help each kid, no matter what level they were at, is a true testament to what she’s been to our school system,” math teacher Richard Strike said.

Kolbeck graduated from UNI and started her teaching career in Burlington, but she returned back to Cedar Falls to give to help students reach their potentials.

Kolbeck said she likes to make an effort in helping each and every individual, working with them to figure out ways to face their difficulties.

The biggest change Kolbeck saw throughout the past 24 years of teaching at Cedar Falls and having three children graduate from here as well, is the grading system, which students are not a big fan of.

“I haven’t gotten into the new grading system a lot. Our skills now is pass-fail. So, that’s totally different; sometimes I feel like students don’t take it very seriously. I can’t say I’m happy with it nor dissatisfied with it. It is just really hard to explain it to parents how that all works,” Kolbeck said.

In the past Kolbeck helped out with the school band when her daughter was in it as well.

“I think my best memory was when my daughter was in band and my husband and I chaperoned the band trip to San Diego for the Holiday Bowl. This is probably what sticks out the most, but all the sporting events, track events and different activities I’ve gone to watch students participate in,” Kolbeck said.

Her spouse has also retired, and Kolbeck is looking forward to making plans and spending her retirement years with her husband. Although she is giving a break to helping students at school, Kolbeck is really into getting involved and volunteering to keep spreading love, kindness and respect.

“We have a son in San Diego, so part of my plans are to be able to go out there more often and to visit our grandchildren and do things with them. I’d also like to do a little bit of traveling, just to have more time to get involved and volunteer, having free time and being able to do hobbies and stuff,” she said.

Kolbeck might not be in the school system as much, but she has two grandchildren that live in town that love to use their ‘granny days’ to do schoolwork with her, so she will be involved in the community a lot, which will help her in keeping contact with the school at all times.

“Right now I don’t think it will be hard because I will still be in Cedar Falls, and although it’s not that big, I will be involved in the school system through my grandchildren. So, I don’t think it’ll be too hard to leave, but it’ll be totally different because I won’t be waking up in the morning and go, ‘Oh, I gotta get to school by this time,’ or, ‘Oh, what am I doing today?’ But it will be a new chapter in my life, so I’m looking forward to it being like a new adventure,” Kolbeck said.

Even though retirement is about relaxing and having more free time, Kolbeck will still be busy organizing things at home that she has talked about with her husband before.

“Cleaning out files is my top priority. I have file cabinets full at home. My husband says we don’t need anymore. We need to clean it out, so I hope to do a lot of cleaning out files. I hope to do a lot of organizing photos because I have a lot just lying in boxes; I would also love to focus more on gardening this summer if we don’t do the traveling,” she said.

After 45 years of teaching, substituting is not what she wants to do right away, but her kind and supporting actions will always be remembered.

“It has been my pleasure co-teaching with Mrs. Kolbeck the past few years. She is a great support for all of the students in the classroom. Her dedication to education is something to be admired,” math teacher Anna Wilkinson said.

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