It seems it’s never too late to start — or change — a career.
Julia Child didn’t start cooking until she was 40. Col. Sanders didn’t start promotion of his fried chicken until he was 66. And Ken Eckert didn’t start his career as a teacher until he was 46.
The S.E. Polk High School science instructor started life on a farm near Dallas Center with his three brothers. They spent most of their free time down by the creek and in the timber.
“A lot of things centered around the creek,” he says. “My mom wanted us to stay out of the creek, but we would try to find a way to fall in. And once you are in, you might as well stay.”
Winters included sliding down the farm’s big sledding hill. In the summer Eckert earned money working for a neighbor farmer walking beans, shoveling corn and baling hay.
Eckert and his wife, Chris — whom he had known since first grade — married right after high school graduation and he attended Eastern Iowa Community College in Muscatine on a basketball scholarship. Then he left college and entered the work force, putting in 25 years at Armstrong Tire and Rubber. Then he decided it was time for a change.
“When our youngest of three was a senior in college, I went back to college,” he says. “I had always wanted to be a teacher and decided to do it. I went to Grand View in Des Moines.”
He taught two years at Hoover High School before coming to S.E. Polk.
“My first teaching job I was 46 years old,” he says. “I thought I had supervised adults all my life, so I thought supervising kids would be easy.”
The job change is something he enjoys.
“I enjoy the kids,” he says. “I enjoy seeing them interested in things. I love it when kids come back to visit me. And I love the teachers — teachers are people that are drawn to teaching.”
Eckert loves to spend time with his wife, Chris, and his fish, Golgi, Spot and Ralph. His hobbies include rock collecting, genealogy, reading, fishing and spending time with his wife and grandkids.