Teacher to close book on career at CHS

The Carroll Herald, May 1994
By Steve Haviland

After 32 years of teaching, Dave Nieland said he would like to leave his profession gracefully and quietly.

Nieland will finish his 25th and final year of teaching at Carroll High School next week. He is taking early retirement from a teaching career that included stints in Perry and Lake View.

Nieland said he doesn't have definite plans for retirement, and admits it's a little scary when he dwells on the future.

"I just want to retire now, " Nieland said. "It's soon enough."

He came to the Carroll Community School district in 1968, but he was not a stranger to the area. A Breda native and a graduate of St. Bernard High School in Breda, Nieland has his undergraduate and master's degrees from Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Mo.

"I've also done graduate work all over the place," Nieland said.

When he came to the CCSD, Nieland was a Title One reading specialist. His major in college was history and social studies, so Nieland said he gradually worked his way into that area.

After teaching social studied for a few years, Nieland said, CHS started offering nine-week mini- courses which covered a wide variety of subjects.

"This is really where I started having a lot of fun in some of these areas," Nieland said. "That's where I taught my course on Iowa and Carroll County history at the high school level - which is wild."

Another mini-course Nieland started and has taught for over a decade is perspectives on death. He said it has been a practical course that deals with what the title indicates - death and dying.

"Most people aren't around somebody dying or don't see death until it actually happens," Nieland said. "It gives these young kids an idea what's going to happen in life."

He said the course wouldn't have been possible without help from local lawyers, doctors, insurance agents and funeral directors who were willing to speak with his classes.

Other mini-courses Nieland helped develop are world religion and the history of the Western United States. Nieland said the CHS curriculum moved away from the mini-courses, so those subjects were worked in with regular semester-long classes.

Nieland said students haven't changed much over the years.

"If you think back, they're about the same in many ways but in some ways they seem to know more of the ways of the world," Nieland said.

"They're more street-smart about a lot of things. They're exposed to more things than they were 20 years ago. Your good kids haven't changed that much, and those are the ones who are going to succeed."

As a teacher, Nieland said, he has gone through some changes. He said he doesn't dress in a suit and tie anymore, he now sits instead of stands when lecturing and he is more relaxed than his earlier days.

Change is one aspect of teaching Nieland has enjoyed.

"Teaching has always been a challenge. Every day it's something different," Nieland said. "There isn't one day the same and there isn't one student who is the same. I don't like to change but I like change around me."

One of the most memorable changes for Nieland was the move into the new high school building. He said it was exciting to watch the new building going up and to get ready for the move.

"I really did throw things out," Nieland said. "I have been accused of being a pack rat."

Nieland has also seen Carroll High's enrollment explode in recent years.

"You never noticed it until you kept looking around and pretty soon, my gosh, we've got 30 people in the class. Where are they coming from?" Nieland said.

Nieland's life will change when he retires from the CCSD, but he isn't planning to completely leave the profession. He still plans to work part time at the Des Moines Area Community College campus in Carroll.

Since the late 1970's, Nieland has taught an occasional course at DMACC, including subjects such as western civilization, sociology, American history, philosophy and Iowa history.

"If they need me, I'll fill in," Nieland said.

Nieland won't be working at DMACC during the winter. He plans to take an annual winter vacation in Arizona.

As for hobbies, Nieland will continue to restore antiques.

"I buy junk and I sell antiques," he said.

He also plans to work on the genealogy of his mother's side of the family, the Brauns. He has already traced the Nielands back to the 1740's.

Nieland said his 26 years in the CCSD have not seemed like a long time. But after more than 30 years in the profession, Nieland said, the time has come to try something else.

"I'm getting a little apprehensive right now," Nieland said. "I think it's going to be a shock next fall when I don't go back to school for the first time in my life."

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