OTTAWA — John Schultze’s passion lies in education. He spent his whole adult life teaching and coaching.
Schultze is a fixture in the Central Heights school district. He taught shop and drafting for 31 years (1975-2006) at Central Heights and substituted for the past 13 years in the district. He spent nearly 60 years in education. His teaching and coaching began in 1962 in Virgil, Kan., after graduating from Emporia State University.
“I enjoy it,” Schultze said. “I had an itch to coach. I liked shop. I put those two together and that is where I put my life. If I had to do it over, I don’t think I would do anything different. I have had a pretty good life.”
The longtime educator received one of the highest honors for a Central Heights teacher, student, staff member or patron — selection to the Ring of Honor. The first class was inducted in 2017.
The Ring of Honor is a prestigious honor that is scheduled to occur no more than once every two years, according to the committee’s bylaws. Inductees may be nominated and selected to the USD 288 Ring of Honor for their success, involvement and service to the district as employees, students or district patrons.
Schultze will be recognized during Friday’s home football game against Oskaloosa. The induction reception and banquet will be Saturday in the Central Heights Elementary School multipurpose room. Social hour begins at 5 p.m. with the program at 7:45 p.m. Former students and colleagues — Ardyce Wilson, Vern Brown, Rusty Cannady, Tom Horstick, Buddy Welch and Royce Powelson — will share memories and anecdotes of Schultze.
“I was surprised to even get nominated,” Schultze said. “To get chosen, it slayed me. I can’t believe it. This is one that really surprised me. I feel very fortunate.”
Schultze fell in love with the Central Heights community and never felt the urge to leave.
“I liked the school and people I was working with,” Schultze said. “The administration group was good at that time — Bob Erisman, Warren Watson and Bud Laird — that was a good group to be under, so I stayed right there. The other teachers were very easy to get along with ... help you in any way possible.”
Schultze was mentored by Ike Cearfoss, a Central Heights icon.
“One of the special memories I have was working and coaching with Ike Cearfoss,” he said. “He was a great inspiration. I drove back and forth to school with him. That really gave me a big boost.”
Even in retirement, Schultze's passion for teaching and Central Heights never wavered. He worked half-days for a couple of years after retirement, then began substituting.
“I did not want to get a full-time job,” Schultze said. “This was something that would let me play golf in the summer and do other things, so why not do a job like this. You are still working with kids and being around kids."