Jill Curry … NUHS retiree

NEW ULM – Seeing the light bulb go on in students as they got what she was teaching.

Watching their faces beam as they earned a silver or gold star rating in STAR events at the region, state and national level.

Seeing the students grow as leaders during their time as region and state officers, “especially my sons.”

Catching the enthusiasm and energy of the dance team as it placed at state competition, or having a near-perfect Homecoming performance.

Having someone tell you they used what they learned in your classes.

The simple gesture of having students say, “Hi, Mrs. Curry, what are we going to learn today?”

The moments roll in front of the mental eye, as Jill Curry, recently retired family and consumer science teacher at the New Ulm High School, remembers her 30-plus years of teaching, coaching and advising.

Mark Bergmann, NUHS principal, perhaps sums it up best, when describing Curry: “a person who is patient, kind, caring and committed to their job.”

“There are not enough adjectives to describe Jill and what she has done for students and District 88,” says Bergmann. “She is full of energy and always on the move.”

“Teaching five different classes, getting groceries during her prep and looking for ways to stretch her budget are just a few of her daily duties,” says Bergmann. “Her passion for family and consumer science are second to none. Her commitment to FCCLA is demonstrated by her students’ consistent performance at state competitions, as well as her own son following in her footsteps as a teacher and an FCCLA advisor.”

“But, what I will remember most, about both Jill and [husband] Dave Curry, is the commitment they have to their family. Others can only dream about the relationship these two have with their kids. From vacations to sporting events, Jill and Dave are there to support and encourage their two sons. This love and commitment carried into the classroom to all other students,” Bergmann said.

Curry was born in Olivia and grew up in St. James and Hastings. She earned a B.A. in home economics education, family life studies and a coaching certificate at St. Olaf College in Northfield. She married her husband and accepted her teaching job in New Ulm in the first month after graduation.

Curry taught home economics (later changed to family and consumer science) from 1979 until 1988. She took a five-year leave of absence to teach dance in conjunction with Park and Rec in 1985-1994. She taught tap, jazz and ballet to 485 students. As her sons entered school, she switched back to teaching family and consumer science in 1994.

Curry has served as assistant gymnastics coach and coached cheer leading and dance team. She has been the FCCLA adviser in New Ulm since 1979.

“I have had two state officers, one pep squad member, and numerous district and region officers,” remembers Curry.

She served as lead consultant and region representative for STAR events; and was on the state FCCLA Board of Directors, serving as the chairperson.

Curry has served on the Inclusion, Staff Development, Leadership Team, National Honor Society Selection and Activities Committees and as a PLC (professional learning community) coach and in several other roles.

Curry is married to her husband of 34 years, retired teacher and athletic director Dave Curry. They have two sons, also graduates of St. Olaf and in many ways following in their parents’ footsteps.

“My family means the world to me, and I am found going to their ball games, whether it was when my husband coached … or watching my sons play all through school and summer as well as two sports (football and baseball) at St. Olaf,” remembers Curry.

“I also am passionate about music and dance with helping choreograph musicals, choir concerts and Payne Street performances. The years my sons were in the musicals made it even more special.”

Curry decided to be a teacher because she enjoyed watching her parents and copying what they did. There are seven teachers in her immediate family.

She played school as a child with her siblings, with her neighbors as pupils. She taught gymnastics, synchronized swimming and regular swimming lessons as a summer job. She assisted teaching dance as a teen.

“Teaching has always been my passion, as wells as coaching and FCCLA,” she says. “I was very active in school as a district and state FCCLA officer and wanted to give back to the organization as a teacher. I also loved participating in gymnastics, dance and cheer leading and wanted to share that feeling with my students.”

“My educational philosophy was to help each student learn something new and to reach out to them each day and let them know I cared,” says Curry. “Teaching the classes I did allowed me to have the chance to apply the academic areas to the real world. I wanted each student to leave my classroom a better person than they were when they came in. I wanted them to see that learning is enjoyable and should never stop.”

Over time, the topics taught and the classes that were “popular” changed, notes Curry.

“It started with more emphasis on sewing and cooking; now the focus is more on time-saving issues, financial issues and career-oriented topics,” sums up Curry.

“What I liked best about the job was the students,” says Curry. “They gave me energy and life. I loved watching them come into the room full of life and watching them grow to the best they could be during their years at the high school. The time spent working with my fellow teachers and administration will always be special to me,” adds Curry.

“I felt like I came to life in the classroom and never regretted for a minute that I chose teaching,” adds Curry. “I almost feel like teaching chose me.”

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