Tauke, Tighe look back on vast careers in education

After 40 years of teaching and coaching, Curt Tauke will retire at the end of the school year. He does have plans to return at some point to coach golf and basketball. (Express file photo)

Jackie Tighe has been with the MCSD for 28 years as an art teacher. She looks back on her career fondly, noting all of the creative students she’s had over the years (Photo submitted)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     At the end of the 2022-23 school year in a couple of weeks, the Monticello Community School District (MCSD) will say “good bye” to two long-time teachers…

Curt Tauke

   Tauke spent 40 years of his life working for the MCSD in several roles. He’s most proud of having been a teacher; not just a teacher of students, but a teacher of fellow teachers and staff as well.

   “I have been very fortunate to work within one district for 40 years,” he said. “It’s flown by.”

   When Tauke was hired, he taught seventh-grade math. He was also a technology building level facilitator. These last few years, he served as the half-time middle school technology coach, and half-time district technology director.

   Tauke has also coached several sports in his 40 years with the MCSD: golf, basketball, football, and swimming. He also dabbled in drama, directing “The Town” alongside former teacher Deb Bowman.

   Per “the rule of 88,” Tauke was eligible to start collecting on his IPERS when he turned 55. Now at 62, he’s ready to retire.

   His wife has been retired now four a handful of years, too.

   “Forty is a nice, round number, and I’m a numbers guy,” he joked.

   There were a few things Tauke wanted to check off his list before stepping down, though. He wanted to make sure the bond issue passed to build a new middle school. He wanted to spend at least one year inside that new middle school.

   “This place is so fantastic for education, for the kids, and the community,” he praised. “The town took a giant step forward by investing in a new school. It was a great step forward toward getting a central campus here. I’ve just fallen in love with this building.”

   Tauke said he knew he wanted to be a teacher before he even graduated from high school. With teaching and coaching tied together in a sense, he knew that was the direction he wanted to go.

   “I was, and still am, big into sports,” he said.

   Tauke grew up in the small town of Greeley in Delaware County, attending West Delaware schools.

   “I was familiar with the MCSD because we were in the same conference in sports,” he said.

   When Tauke was in California, he was notified that the MCSD wanted to offer him a job teaching math. He also coached middle school football.

   “That was the most fun I’ve ever had, coaching 7-8 football,” he reminisced. “The kids learn so much from the beginning to the end of the year. I loved it!”

   After 40 years coaching golf and over 20 years with basketball, Tauke can’t stay away. Due to his IPERS, he will have to take a four-month break before coming back to coaching.

   After having conversations with the administration and Coach Tim Lambert, Tauke has officially resigned from coaching, but does plan to return for at least a year or two after that break.

   “It’ll be nice because I can focus on coaching versus that eight-hour work day,” he said. “But we’ll see how it goes. I have a great relationship with the coaching staff; we’ve been together for quite a few years. We’ve grown close. We have fun on and off the court.”

   Holding two positions, Tauke’s work will be absorbed by existing staff: District Technology Associate Morgan Murray-Zimmerman, Middle School Teacher Librarian Kim Carlson, and Curriculum/Special Programs Director Robyn Ponder.

   Having held the two half-time positions the last several years, Tauke said it’s allowed for flexibility within his daily schedule versus being in the classroom all day, every day.

   Tauke praised his fellow technology co-workers, including Murray-Zimmerman; Michael Robertson, the district systems analyst; and Heather Hansen, K-4 technology coach.

   “We are extremely fortunate as a district,” he said.

   Having technology coaches and associates on staff, Tauke said, has saved the district a lot of money in the long run versus working and contracting with a third party.

   The technology department isn’t just about computers, but also involves the automatic doors, the security system, the phone system, smart boards, as well as curriculum.

   “There’s a lot under the technology umbrella,” said Tauke.

   As the MS technology coach, he conducted PD (professional development) workshops with the staff, training them on different devices and programs.

   “It’s about supporting the teachers in the classrooms.

   Tauke said education is not just about standing up in front of a classroom anymore; it’s more about individualized teaching, the idea of a “transformational classroom.” This involves collaborative learning where each student feels valued, engaged instruction, and self-directed learners.

   “We are very fortunate where we’re at with the district,” Tauke said tech-wise. “If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backwards. We’ve always been looking for the best practices to move our education system forward versus overwhelming the budget.”

   Looking back on his 40 years in education, Murray-Zimmerman admitted it never felt like work due to the love of the job.

   “I have learned so much from the people I worked with. I’ll miss the kids and their youthful enthusiasm.”

   Tauke is proud of being a part of the MCSD 1-1 technology initiative for all grade levels. He said having the technology and infrastructure in place prior to 2020/COVID, was a huge advantage for the students and staff.

   The interactive smart boards for K-8 has also meant increased educational opportunities for the students.

   “The district has really moved forward!”

   In his retirement, Murray-Zimmerman is looking forward to really not having a set schedule or a routine every day.

   “I have no plans, which is what I want. I don’t want to have anything locked in.”

   Looking back on his career, Murray-Zimmerman said he truly feels as if he’s gotten to do exactly what he set out to do in life.

   “I had 40 years in a profession that I loved, and did it all here in Monticello,” he said fondly.

Jacqueline (Jackie) Tighe

   Tighe has been with the MCSD for 28 years. As she closed out her final days with the district, she taught art classes at Shannon and Carpenter Elementary Schools (grades K-4).

   “I feel like there was a connection with every single child,” she said of her years teaching art. “I was frequently amazed by my students’ ideas, talent, and problem-solving through art. Their masterpieces were authentic, and always the result of high expectations and good concentration.”

   Tighe started working for the MCSD after moving to Monticello via the East Coast. She wanted to raise her daughters closer to family.

   While pregnant with her third daughter, Tighe was a substitute teacher.

   “In the early years, I worked part-time in seventh- and eighth-grade art,” she recalled. “That worked well while being home with three little ones.”

   When Joy Adams retired from teaching elementary art, Tighe took on her full-time position for K-4.

   A few years later, there was a vacancy in the art department at the middle school. To save the district money, Tighe said, she then became the PreK-8 art teacher, working in all three buildings at the time.

   “That was the most challenging assignment of my life,” she said, “teaching, planning for, and grading over 800 students, and managing three different art classrooms, traveling to three different schools; about 36 different classes of students a week. I only saw each child about once per cycle.”

   Tighe maintained this schedule for about a decade.

   In the mid-2000s, Janice Wallerich was hired as the middle school art teacher. This allowed Tighe to step back to teaching twice a week at Carpenter and Shannon schools.

   “That was much better for the kids,” she said, “and for my extreme stress level!”

   Aside from elementary art, Tighe was the assistant drama coach for 18 years.

   “It was a busy time!” she said.

   There was one year where Tighe also taught high school art classes.

   “I’ve taught every grade,” she said of her teaching career.

   In her job, she always tried to provide constructive criticism to her students, not doing their work for them, and urging them to expand their talents.

   “I’ve enjoyed the children’s excitement when getting new projects designed just for them. “I tried to make sure we had a mix of ideas and subject matter that appealed to boys and girls, with varied interests, and vary or medium periodically to get experience with different art supplies.

   She said some students took her suggestions on their artwork to “pump it up” with more color or design.

   “Some students thought I was picking on them, but I always demanded everyone’s BEST work. Exacting everyone’s thoughts and imagination, and insisting on quality, is my favorite accomplishment.”

   When Tighe was in college at the University of Iowa, she initially thought of going into business. Her love of kids, though, prompted her to declare a major in elementary education.

   “Then one of my friends on my floor was showing us her art projects and I thought, ‘I can do that!’” she said.

   That’s when Tighe switched to art education, which she said made her father happy she was sticking with education in some fashion.

   After college, Tighe moved to Arkansas and managed a retail clothing store. It was also here where she met the then-Governor Bill and Hillary Clinton at a banquet.

   “I told my mom that I’d just seen a future president of the U.S. speak to us about putting teens to work in our businesses,” she recalled of his speech.

   Over the years, before moving back to Monticello, Tighe resided in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. She took jobs within the fitness industry, a modeling agency, and Allstate Insurance.

   “It was good to be back in the Midwest,” she said of moving home.

   With her fiancé already retired, Tighe said he encouraged her to finally step back, too. In June, the couple plans to visit his home on the Pacific Ocean side in Costa Rica. They are also planning their wedding, and Tighe is looking forward to their honeymoon in Paris just in time for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris!

   “I will finally see the art in Paris and Rome that I’ve studied my whole life,” she marveled.

   Reflecting on her career with the MCSD, Tighe shared that she’ll miss her friends.

   “It was a privilege to see an entire town grow up and/or grow older,” she said, “over 28 years. I have never experienced that before.

   “Monticello is in my heart forever; it is my children’s hometown and they flourished here and had the best childhood because of all of our school staff, coaches, teachers, and friends and their parents, as well as our long list of excellent, caring medical people, hundreds of church, and townspeople.”


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