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Dr. Kim P. Huckstadt’s Maquoketa Journey

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Dr. Kim P. Huckstadt and his wife Luanne, Maquoketa HS Math teacher

(A tribute to Dr. Kim P. Huckstadt who is retiring from the Maquoketa School District after 13 years of leading.)

When talking with his brother-in-law this afternoon, Kim said that going to his retirement party was like attending his own funeral. Let’s view this occasion more like a graduation and a celebration of Kim as he moves forward with new adventures.

I would like to begin with a poem by John McLeod called…

It’s the Journey that’s Important…

Life, sometimes so wearying
Is worth its weight in gold
The experience of traveling
Lends a wisdom that is old
Beyond our ‘living memory’
A softly spoken prayer:
“It’s the journey that’s important,
Not the getting there!”

Ins and outs and ups and downs
Life’s road meanders aimlessly.
Or so it seems, but somehow
Leads to where we need to be,
And being simply human
We oft question and compare….
“Is the journey so important
Or the getting there?”

And thus it’s always been
That question pondered down the ages
By simple men with simple ways
To wise and ancient sages….
How sweet then, quietly knowing
Reaching destination fair:
“It’s the journey that’s important,
Not the getting there!”

My trucker husband Brian said that when he was driving semi in Chicago, he noticed a trucking company’s motto on a semi that said: WE DRIVE THE EXTRA MILE. Underneath the motto somebody had written in the dust: BECAUSE WE TAKE THE WRONG EXITS. Sometimes we work and direct our lives going the extra mile, sometimes we take the wrong turn, but we take a clover leaf and return. Sometimes something interrupts our path, but eventually we get back on the right path. Kim has taken our district down new roads, new paths, but has always kept us on the right path, taking us a great distance. Now he has decided it’s time to get out of the cab and send us on our way.

Today we are celebrating the journey of Kim Huckstadt, someone who has always shown us that he places value in the journey and not necessarily the “getting there.” It is my honor to speak on behalf of the Central Office team. (Now really – how can you say NO to the lovely ladies of Central Office?) We are recognizing Dr. Kim Huckstadt on this occasion as he chooses a journey in pursuit of other adventures beyond the Maquoketa School District. It is interesting to take a closer look at the road that Kim has traveled especially a journey made by one who has given so very much to our school district.

Kim began his journey here when he came to Maquoketa as an 8th grade science teacher fresh out of Beloit College. At the junior high, he taught under the mentorship of Ron Fisher (which was before mentors were called mentors). At that time, he taught two science classes and had four study halls that led him to perform much begging and pleading to Principal Willman. Being a convincing begger, Kim succeeded in changing his teaching assignment to four science classes with only two study halls. He confesses he even taught a math class to get away from those horrid junior high study halls.

Kim said his favorite things to teach were neutralization reactions and balancing equations. How appropriate since neutralization reactions assisted him with contract negotiations (neutralizing reactions) and balancing equations prepared him well for balancing numerous district budgets!

For many years, he traveled many a road as the high school girls basketball coach. It seems fitting to apply a quote by basketball coaching great John Wooden who said, “Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.” Kim’s character has kept our district great because his qualities as a leader have always espoused the highest of ethics.

In the fall of 1986, he and Luanne followed a different road and left Maquoketa for three years in pursuit of other adventures. Eventually he realized the true adventure was being in Maquoketa, so they returned in 1989 where he taught high school science half days and refinished furniture the other half. It was during his part time teaching that he entered Western Illinois University to begin work on a Master’s in Administration. With only 9 graduate hours to his name, he was made the assistant principal and athletic director at the Middle School. In the fall of 1995, he became principal. While principal, he paved many roads in the area of creative and innovative teaching – organizing a creative applications class, encouraging the creation of cross-curricular units, and sending educators to Canada to see the effect of quality integrated units. As a principal, Kim encouraged his staff to think outside the box and organized our schedule in such a way to accommodate creative instruction and enabled us make cross-curricular connections.

Not content to stay as principal, Kim was called to travel a different road and he became the superintendent in the fall of 2001 – a significant fall marked by the historical event we call 9-11. Always committed to continuous improvement, in 2011 he earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership.

Always the teacher, Kim has provided endless instructional power points, workshops for staff, and has served as an adjunct professor for WIU. He has served on numerous advisory councils and committees both locally and across the state along with giving presentations and publishing articles.

His honors include: AEA 9 Middle Level Principal of the year, AEA 9 Superintendent of the Year, Dr. Robert Hall Dissertation Award presented by the Educational Leadership Department at WIU, and recipient of the Patriotic Employer Award from the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Kim has assisted and guided our district in making significant changes: the high school commons area, new additions in our district including geothermal capabilities at Briggs, MS office changes, HS science and art classrooms, a new competition gymnasium, a great track and beautiful tennis courts. He has opened other roads, roads leading to a bright future for our students through the building of Clinton Community College (Maquoketa’s campus) next to our high school. He has paved the road to Maquoketa by paving the way for whole grade sharing with Delwood and Andrew along with arrangements for shared classes with Easton Valley.

Kim lives life much like that described in the following poem:

Just One
By Unknown

One song can spark a moment,
One flower can wake the dream.
One tree can start a forest,
One bird can herald spring.
One smile begins a friendship,
One handclasp lifts a soul.
One star can guide a ship at sea,
One word can frame the goal
One vote can change a nation,
One sunbeam lights a room
One candle wipes out darkness,
One laugh will conquer gloom.
One step must start each journey.
One word must start each prayer.
One hope will raise our spirits,
One touch can show you care.
One voice can speak with wisdom,
One heart can know what’s true,                                                                                                                                                                                                                           One life can make a difference,
You see, of Kim that’s true!

Thank you, Kim, for all you have done in making Maquoketa School District one of a kind – a very special kind, just like the leader you have been for us.

And so now, for you, Kim:

The Roads Go Ever On by JRR Tolkien

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And you must follow, if you can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.                                                                                                                                                                                                                And wither then? We cannot say.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And you must follow, if you can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? We cannot say.

Still ’round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate;
And though you oft have passed them through,
This day has come at last when you
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, and East of the Sun.

Kim, we all wish you great adventures ahead in your new journey in life. Thank you.