DARLINGTON – Ending a long teaching career is never easy but especially during this time when school ends without a suitable goodbye. Darlington Elementary/Middle School band teacher John Bausch ended his teaching career after 35 years, all done in Darlington.
“It just felt like the timing was right,” John said.
A graduate of Lancaster High School in 1981, John attended Viterbo College in La Crosse for one year before transferring to UW-Platteville, graduating from there in 1985.
That spring, he did his student teaching under Orville Harvet, band teacher in Darlington and after Harvet’s retirement that year, John was asked back in the fall to interview for the position as the middle school band director.
In high school, John was involved in band and orchestra. He really became strongly interested in music and credits his band teacher Monte Muller for being an inspiration to him and encouraging him to become a music teacher.
“He was a very good teacher who gave his time and energy to every student. He cared and wanted to give his best to every student. I really wanted to be a teacher after working under him,” John said.
One of John’s favorite memories from teaching was helping students prepare for solo ensemble festival each year. He enjoyed seeing the students go from not being able to play their music to conquering it and receiving top ratings from judges.
“That always was a great memory and a thrill to see the students succeed like that,” John said.
Not being able to say good-bye to his students has been hard. Not having a final concert has been disappointing but John knows there is not much he could have done.
“I was looking forward to a final concert and to be able to say good-bye and to let them show off to the audience, to show what they can do,” John reminisced.
He will miss the students most of all. After 35 years, he estimates he has taught over 1,000 students.
“Missing the kids is the biggest thing. Working with them everyday and helping them through their challenges, seeing them learn how to become better musicians, students and human beings I will miss a lot,” John said.
John wants his students to continue to be involved in music and get the most out of it, make it a passion.
Music not only was his passion, it helped him meet the other love in his life, his wife Kate.
While in high school, they met at the Dorian Summer Band Camp at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. They both played in the trombone section. After the camp, they kept in touch and eventually went to college together first to La Crosse then Platteville. On May 26, they will celebrate 36 years of marriage.
Retirement is going to allow him to spend more time with his family, wife Kate, daughter Mary Paige, and his parents.
“I wanted to retire when I still felt good about teaching and enjoyed working with students. Retiring fairly young at only age 57 will hopefully allow me to be more selective in what I do,” John said.
He plans to take more time to get involved back into some ensemble groups, playing his main instruments, the trombone and cello.
For now, John and Kate will be staying in Darlington and he plans on attending all of the concerts and parades that will occur in the future.
John is very appreciative of his time he spent in Darlington and is grateful for the great teaching staff, which he feels is the best in the state.
“Darlington has the best staff, teachers and school board. They were all a great group of people to work with. I received much support from our band parents and community members as well. It has been wonderful,” John said.