Faculty Farewell

Three retiring West High faculty reflect on their time at West and share their retirement plans.


Erinn Varga

David Rosenthal, Rob Medd and Tom Lindsey are retiring this year. They have been teaching for a combined 84 years at West High.

Tom Lindsey (English teacher, 25 years)

WSS: What are your best memories at West?

Lindsey: Some of my best memories were on Halloween when wearing costumes was still allowed. I enjoyed seeing students’ and teachers’ creativity personified and how it helped create a sense of community and bonding with students.

WSS: What is unique about West?

Lindsey: I taught in Oregon before coming to West, and what impressed me most about West was the level of academic rigor along with all the talent showcased at theatrical productions, debate tournaments, sporting events and the list goes on. West High is percolating with talented students who yearn for opportunities to tap into their talents.

WSS: What will you miss most about teaching at West?

Lindsey: I will miss figuring out new ways to connect students to literature and writing, and ideally, inspiring students to think for themselves while feeding their intellectual curiosities. I will also miss the faculty at West, especially my English department compadres. They’re the bomb. 

WSS: What are your retirement plans?

Lindsey: I’m looking forward to devoting more time and energy to my creative writing pursuits [to] see what unfolds. Some writers recommend writing about what you know, so I soaked up 25 years of material to write about. [Though], I prefer writing about what I don’t know. Discovery is contagious, and I hope to travel and indulge in more experiences that help feed my muse and nurture my soul. 

David Rosenthal (Spanish teacher, 29 years)

WSS: How did you end up teaching at West?

Rosenthal: My wife provoked me into exploring other options besides a small private school; at the private school I was [teaching at], in Maryland, my largest class [size] was 16. She said, “You can do more and impact more students at a larger school. You just have to have the confidence to do it.” I took a risk, coming to get my master’s degree and then to come and teach at a larger school.

WSS: What are your best memories at West?

Rosenthal: My favorite thing to see is when a light bulb goes on for a student. I think that’s one of the most rewarding things about teaching. When students come back and say, “Hey, I never really thought Spanish was going to be useful for me,” but then they go into their stories about how Spanish has come into their lives; I always get nice satisfaction from that.

WSS: What are your retirement plans?

Rosenthal: I kind of dream about a cabin in the woods by a lake so that I can sit down and just relax a little bit. And I want to try and fiddle a little bit with some writing. I’ve got lots of projects around the house that I’m kind of waiting to get done [too]. Between that, community service and [soccer] coaching, I think [I will be] plenty busy.

WSS: Do you have any parting advice for your students?

Rosenthal: I love to try and get students to be open-minded because open-mindedness can lead to opportunity going forward. And if you can keep your opportunities and options as open as possible, then you get to choose the types of paths you want to [take]. If you’re close-minded and set in your ways, you’re really limiting [your] possibilities.

Rob Medd (Band Director, 30 years) 

WSS: What are your best memories at West?

Medd: There have been some amazing, tremendous performance opportunities, but I think that [the best] memories are working with the students, whether it’s sometimes a performance, sometimes in a rehearsal. I have to remind myself just how fortunate I am to have been able to make music with students every day. It’s not something we just do at the concert. We are performing and playing music every single day.

WSS: What is unique about West?

Medd: Iowa City Schools are very fortunate to have support in the community for music and the arts, whether it’s the band, choir, orchestra or visual arts. For the students and the faculty, and the community of West High, [they are] not known for one thing. There are students succeeding in whatever their interests are and successful programs with a lot of people involved. 

WSS: How has West stayed the same during your time here?

Medd: One of the things I really like about West is the diversity and then the appreciation for that diversity. You don’t just have to be one kind of person or one thing to be popular. You can have friends from all across the student body.

WSS: What will you miss most about teaching?

Medd: I will definitely miss seeing students every day and working with them and watching their growth, their successes and failures.

WSS: What do you want your students to know?

Medd: One of the goals that I had was to have a really strong, quality program, but also that every student felt like there was a place for them in the band program at West High. I want kids to feel comfortable and at home here in the band program at West because I feel that music is a really important part of people’s lives. 

Check out all the profiles of all retiring staff.