A kindergarten teacher reached out to Judi Raasch after she retired asking her to come help for a day or two in their classroom. A dozen years later, Raasch finds herself travelling down the road of a second career in education.
Raasch was employed for 35 years with the Greenfield schools, then Nodaway Valley, as a high school Family and Consumer Sciences instructor.
For the past 12 years, Raasch has chosen to come to school each day still, either as a substitute teacher or as a volunteer. She spends almost each day at the elementary school loving on the students there and serving the staff in any way she can.
Raasch's efforts haven't gone unnoticed. In early May, she was recognized by the Iowa State Education Association as a Friend of Education. Last Thursday, she was recognized more locally at the elementary school's Awards Assembly. She was appreciated by the staff that day and received a heartwarming, giant group hug from the students. That was her favorite part.
According to first grade teacher Shelly Harris, who spoke Thursday, Raasch does everything with a willing heart and a smile.
"I told them that the best part of all was the giant hug. It shows the caring — the give and the take from me to the kids and back," said Raasch, whose husband, Bill, was also an educator. "We're in a day and age where they say you're not supposed to give hugs, but if a child is coming to me to give me a hug I'm giving it back. As you can see, there's so many that need it. I know that what I'm doing is giving back and they're giving back to me."
Raasch said that when a person retires, they generally shut the door on future opportunities or leave the door open. She describes that she left the door open. Thursday is a result of that decision.
"I wanted the door wide open, but at the high school level, I didn't want to work with cell phones and wrong websites, but I did sub up there. A kindergarten teacher asked me if I'd come up for a day or two, and I told them I'd love it," Raasch said. "It grew to me coming everyday. I'm either a volunteer or sub. I live in the kindergarten and first grade rooms but I sub throughout. It grew, I saw how much the teachers needed help, so whether it was running copies for them or helping some kids read or helping kids who had been sick get caught up, we grew together. I love coming to school, I love my job."