If one was to ask around about what kind of person Jim Lippold is, a common response is “different.” It is this difference that has set him apart, earning him this year’s induction to the Creston Community Hall of Fame as Distinguished Faculty.
“When I arrived (to Creston) he was part of a very veteran staff, but he was not one that was stuck in his ways,” said former CCHS principal Todd Wolverton. “He recognized that things could be done better and contributed as we moved forward with school improvement efforts. More importantly, he asked good questions.”
Wolverton said Lippold challenged some ideas and proposals which forced others to think things through with deeper consideration.
“That was beneficial as we made some very solid progress at CHS during that time,” said Wolverton.
Lippold, who retired from CCHS in 2005 as speech, drama and English teacher, was the youngest of three children born to Frank and Margaret Lippold in rural Pottawattamie County. Following his 1967 graduation from Avoca High School, he majored in speech and theatre and earned a minor in English from Dana College in Blair, Nebraska, graduating in 1971.
Lippold started his career teaching at East Monona in Moorehead, where he married his wife Mary in 1972. After five years in Moorehead, he joined the ranks at Creston High School in 1976, where he taught for nearly three decades.
At CHS, Lippold directed many plays and speech contests. At contests, his entries were named “Outstanding Performers” with four chosen for the “Critics’ Choice Award.”
In addition to teaching, coaching and directing, Lippold served as president of the Southwest District of the Iowa High School Speech Association, a member of the IHSSA Large Group All State Committee, and worked with Trees Forever and Creston FFA in planting projects on campus and in the community.
Lippold was chosen by Southwestern Company to serve as a consultant on their advisory board. After teaching, he worked as a consultant with Skills Iowa.
Lippold’s style, while uniquely his own, was inspired by Norman Bansen, his former college professor from Dana College. It was in Bansen’s Scandinavian literature and Oriental classics courses where Lippold would begin to discover how to help students discover their personal style and gifts. He liked how the students interacted with Bansen and each other, Lippold even laid out his own classroom the same, in two horseshoes, to encourage interaction.
“We would always talk and discuss and you never felt like your opinion wasn’t worth something,” Lippold said. “He traveled all over the world and was a very interesting man, but that didn’t make those of us who were 18, 19, 20 years old, in his mind, any less.”
Lippold said Bansen was so influential, he’s tried to emulate him throughout his career.
“But in the end you’re yourself. You are who you are,” he said.
Wolverton said Lippold didn’t do things great or perfect, but he did the important things better than any teacher he has known.
“As a student, colleague and principal, I have worked with a number of outstanding teachers,” said Wolverton. “Him Lippold ranks number one.”
One of Lippold’s students, now an Emmy-winning evening anchor at ABC in Providence, Tiffany Murphy, said Lippold made a “huge impact” on her life.
“I learned so much from Mr. Lippold and it energized my quest to learn and grow in broadcasting,” she said. “Whether he was coaching me on acting, speaking to the camera, teaching me how to direct a play, or offering life advice, what I learned in his classroom and on stage not only prepared me for my major in college, but helped open my eyes to my potential.”
Under Lippold, Murphy took speech, was in nearly every play and end of the year video class.
“Having the opportunity to graduate from CHS and work with teachers like Lippold, and so many other amazing educators, truly allowed me to grow and accomplish my goals and dreams,” Murphy said. “The high school years can be difficult. Knowing we had a safe place to go, to be our weird, unique and quirky selves, to grow, learn and laugh, was refreshing.”
Murphy said Lippold spent countless hours with his students, helping them be the best they could be.
“His attention to detail, his comedic ability and knowledge has touched thousands of lives and made a direct impact on the Creston community and far beyond,” she said.
Wolverton said Lippold cares deeply about his students, and it showed.
“You could see it when he greeted students at his door and when he worked with them in class,” Wolverton said. “I also saw it when he would come to me to discuss true, honest concerns he had about an individual student, most often because he developed strong relationships with his students. He took great joy when they stood up in front of a classroom or on stage to perform. The students felt a great deal of accomplishment when they earned his praise.”
Lippold said nobody had to take his class or do the things he asked of them, but he aimed to make the challenging material enjoyable.
“If it wasn’t some kind of fun, or something rewarding or interesting, you weren’t going to keep them,” he said. “So we tried to have fun, but we all knew we were working toward a goal. Sometimes we’d get there and you’d get surprised. We set out to do good work and did the best we could.”
Under Lippold’s direction CHS received banners in 1984 (Reader’s Theatre), 1994 (Reader’s Theatre and T.V. News) and 1997 (T.V. News).
The secret to his students’ success is simple:
“Just convince them to be the best that they can be and just keep working at that.”