By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
Chase County Schools social studies teacher Al Zuege has spent a good part of his life in classrooms, 27 of them at Chase County High School, later Chase County Schools (CCS).
He’ll be packing up his teaching supplies the end of this school year and heading into retirement.
“I’m dreading cleaning it out,” he said of his classroom. “I may just back the pickup up to the door and get out the wheelbarrow.”
Zuege grew up on a farm north of St. Francis, Kan., where he plans to spend some retirement time. He, his mother and brother still own the farm and rent out the land.
He graduated from Haigler High School in 1962, with 15 in his graduating class.
Zuege attended McCook Community College, then Kearney State College, graduating in 1966 with a Bachelor of Science degree in social studies and physical education.
He taught those two subjects at several schools, starting with two years at Kearney Catholic High School, then 10 years at North Loup-Scotia.
For six years he worked at a bank in North Loup, then returned to teaching in Revere, Colo., joining the Chase County school faculty in 1987.
He has taught only social sciences at CCS, but has coached girls’ basketball and track.
“That’s what they needed when I came here. I guess they never could find anyone to replace me!” he laughed.
He is currently head 9-12 girls’ track coach and was assistant 7-8 girls’ basketball coach.
Asked if one athlete or one team stands out in his mind, Zuege said no.
“I was fortunate to have a lot of good assistant coaches and athletes. We’ve been fairly successful in track over the years.
“There have been so many good times that I can’t think of one being better than another,” he said.
Zuege said he hasn’t thought about coaching once he’s retired, but has a lot of plans for retirement.
In his 41 years of teaching, Zuege said technology has made big changes. In addition, “The kids are more advanced in academics. They are pushed harder and are further ahead” than when he began teaching.
“In social studies the trend has been to teach the kids more how to think than what to think,” he explained.
“Teaching history is cause and effect. What was the result, the long-lasting impact” of an event such as war?
The students are who Zuege has enjoyed the most in his career.
“There’s never really been a day when I didn’t want to go to work,” he said.
He said he’s also worked with good administration, fellow faculty members and good kids.
In his retirement he plans to continue to watch a lot of ball games, fish, shoot and farm.
He and wife Ginny will also continue to watch over their two grandsons, who with son Carl and wife Chelsea live in Imperial. Daughter Pandora and husband Perry live in Bellevue.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said.