Faculty Farewell

WSS says goodbye to three staff members who will be retiring from West High after this school year.

Heidi Du, Print Copy Editor

Rich Medd, band director:

WSS: “What is your favorite thing about teaching music at West?”

Medd: “The number one [thing] is the type of student that I get to work with here at West. The students here, I think, fit my personality better than pretty much any other high school in Iowa [I’ve worked at]. I get the feeling [that] teaching here with the band and orchestra students is more of a small college atmosphere sometimes. There’s just something about West High that I feel like I connect with.” 

WSS: “What are some of your best memories at West?”

Medd: “I think, more often than not, the greatest memories I have are being able to stand in front of the Jazz Ensemble at the end of the year and just listen to them play together as a professional band. They don’t need a conductor anymore, and I just listen to them play with all sorts of emotion and subtlety.”

WSS: “How do you feel about leaving West High after 27 years?”

Medd: “[I’m feeling] very bittersweet about retiring. It’s the right thing to do for my health and the right thing to do for the family, and it’s not really retirement, it’s just an opportunity to flip and try something else for a while. I just don’t really know what that is besides playing and teaching lessons. The opportunity was there and talking to a lot of my family and the other musicians that I know and other teachers, they said, ‘Yeah, this is a good opportunity. So, give it a shot.’”

WSS: “What will you miss about West High?”

Medd: “Most of it is just developing relationships with the students and then also being able to teach music. That’s been the thing that makes me a little sad or emotional about leaving because that’s what I’m going to miss.”


Charlie Stumpff, physical education teacher and head baseball coach:

WSS: “What do you think will stay with you from your time at West?”

Stumpff: “It’s gonna be memories. That’s what I found. Rarely do we talk about that game, that thing, that score. It’s the goofy thing that happened on the bus ride, the thing that happened in practice. And you know, I don’t think enjoying the experience and winning should be mutually exclusive. We want to have good memories, and we hope we’ve got enough to meet all those goals, but we’re going to enjoy the ride on the way to that final place.”

WSS: “How do you feel about West High’s growth in the past 30 years?”

Stumpff: “Mr. Welch is who I have lunch with, [and] the music department is just incredible. I have close ties to the athletic department, and we’ve just grown and [had] lots of really good student-athletes and just a lot of really good teacher-coaches that have just embraced the culture. I think anybody who has been here is very proud of where we’ve come to and what we’ve accomplished here, and I look forward to seeing West continue that.”

WSS: “What are your reasons for retiring this year?”

Stumpff: “I’m old. It just seems the time is right for another journey in life. You know, you just have to be cognizant of your age, and I’d like to do some other things and not be tied down to an eight-to-four job — coaching is much more, nine months out of the year. [But,] I look forward to coming to work, look forward to coaching with my guys, so it’s nothing negative. It’s more [I’m] ready for a new journey, a new place to go.”

WSS: “What parting advice would you give to athletes at West?”

Stumpff: “You know, we always have those goals like, ‘Oh, we’re gonna win conference, gonna go to state, win state.’ Those are your dreams, and they’re just dreams if you’re not going to do the daily work. We’re like everybody else, whether it’s a musician or athlete, you do [the work], and then it’s time to perform and the lights are on, so we want to perform well.”

WSS: “What will you miss the most about West?”

Stumpff: “The whole essence of teaching and coaching is forming relationships, and I won’t have that anymore. Every year is a whole bunch of new people: you get to learn and see where they came from, where they’re going, what they’re doing and how we can help along the way. I think that’s what I’ll miss. The faculty and my peers and you guys, students, [I] learn so much. And that old adage is [that] you guys do keep us young. So, I appreciate that.”


Chris Marks, paraeducator: 

WSS: “What’s your favorite part about being a paraeducator?”

Marks: “My favorite part is when a light bulb goes off in a student’s mind [about] something they were having problems understanding. I can help them, and all of a sudden, they say, ‘Aha, I know how to do this now.’ If I can get students to do those things, I’m doing my job well.”

WSS: “Do you have any favorite memories that you’ve made from teaching here?”

Marks: “Well, always relationships I’ve struck up with some of the kids. It always keeps you young, working with high school teenagers, and [it’s] confounding at the same time. But yeah, I’ve enjoyed assisting the students I’ve been assigned to.”

WSS: “What are some things that you’ll miss most about West?”

Marks: “I’ve always been impressed by the dedication of the teachers to their profession here. I’ve never met a teacher here who is not dedicated to their students. So, I will miss observing that in the classroom.”

WSS: “What are your reasons for retiring this school year?”

Marks: “I’m aging out. I’m 65 years old, and there are a number of things I want to do in my remaining years: travel, walk my dogs, relax and read. So, I’ve worked long enough.”