In many respects, teaching and parenting can be similar endeavors. Both require an understanding of kids, capability to compromise and a desire to help shape young minds in order to be successful. For Ames High German teacher Sam Reichart, both of these callings come with lots of hard work.
Reichart, in his 15th year at Ames, has adopted five children from Ghana ranging in age from 2 years old to second grade. Before his children were able to come live with him, Reichart learned the virtues of patience and perseverance. He and his wife experienced seven failed adoptions, both foreign and domestic, before they were able to complete their family.
While waiting for an adoption to go through, Reichart says teaching helped him prepare for his future children.
“In order to be in education, you have to be able to work through distractions and exhaustion, be incredibly flexible and adapt quickly to any number of unanticipated situations — all while maintaining your composure,” he says. “All of those are skills used every day in effective parenting, especially in helping adopted children to process the loss they have all naturally experienced regardless of age.”
A favorite of many students at the high school, Reichart enjoys teaching as much as students enjoy being in his class.
“I have always enjoyed working with high school-aged students and have always tried to afford them the respect and freedom that I believe they should be capable of managing as young adults,” Reichart says.
This was especially evident when he and his wife were deciding whether to attempt to adopt his first child’s cousins, bringing his family from four to seven. Continuing his habit of absolute honesty with students, he opened up a class discussion, allowing students to voice their opinions as young people on the potential benefits and setbacks of the change in plans. At the end of the day, the general consensus was that after having met the kids, it would be nearly impossible not to adopt the three siblings. And just like that, the process to adopt three more began.
Reichart is happy with his family and students where he is.
“Numerous teachers in many other areas of the country can only dream of having the (students) we encounter here in Ames.”