Chemistry teacher Jim Walsh has spent the past 41 years having fun in the classroom while teaching his students about science. (Joe Clever)
Chemistry teacher Jim Walsh has spent the past 41 years having fun in the classroom while teaching his students about science.

Joe Clever

Chemistry teacher, alum calls it a career after 50 years of being a Spartan

May 20, 2022

In De Smet’s 55-year history more has probably changed than stayed the same. But, for 50 of those years, one thing has remained the same, Jim Walsh has been a part of the community. After this year, that run comes to an end.

Jim Walsh is retiring at the end of this school year after 41 years of teaching chemistry at De Smet. Walsh was also a part of the sixth graduating class of Spartans.

“It just felt like the right time to start a new chapter in my life journey,” Walsh said, “I have been in this community for so long, it’s going to be hard to say goodbye, but I’ll be around.”

 

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Chemistry teacher Jim Walsh started his time at De Smet in 1972, graduating in 1976.

The High School Years

Walsh began his time at De Smet like almost every other student, but at a time when the school had just begun.

“We still had to find our identity as a school,” Walsh said, “Once we started becoming successful in sports and in the classroom, we became who we are today.”

In the classroom, Walsh was not unlike many of the students he teaches today.

“I remember him sitting in the first row (by the door) second or third seat, in Far Eastern and Middle Eastern History,” former social studies teacher and De Smet Hall-of-Famer Chris Mess said. “He was studious, usually alert, and had a serious expression on his face, which could be due to a boring lecture on the Chinese Yuan dynasty from that day.”

While being a good student, Walsh would also get in a little trouble as well.

“He did well on his exams/tests and usually got As, If not an A he sought an explanation. Did he accept the explanation, probably not,” Mess said. “We/he had many detailed rules then: Hair length, belts had to be worn, leather shoes..tied (in case of fire evacuation) etcetera.”

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Chemistry teacher Jim Walsh (back row second from right) and math teacher Dan Likos (seated front row second from left) have known each other since Walsh taught and coached Likos during his freshman year of high school.

Building the passion for teaching

Not only has Walsh made an impression on those who taught him, but those he taught and then became co-workers with have felt his presence.

“Even now I still call him Mr. Walsh,” former student and current math teacher Dan Likos said. “I respect him because he’s been teaching for so long and done it well.”

Likos had Walsh for Chemistry in 1993 and then got reacquainted with his former teacher when he began teaching at De Smet in 2007.

“I had fun and learned a lot in junior year chemistry with Mr. Walsh,” Likos said. “He’s always kind of been a mentor to me as he has seen a lot of things and knows all the tricks in teaching so it was helpful having him here when I came back.”

Both teachers attended the University of Dayton after high school and Walsh helped influence Likos’s decision to go there.

“When it was that time junior year to start looking at colleges, I heard Mr. Walsh talk about Dayton,” Likos said. “Because I respected him and saw his success I thought if it was good for him it could work out well for me so I went there.”

Likos has learned a lot from Walsh’s experience but there is one lesson that has stood out.

“He taught me to not be afraid to have fun and joke around as a student and a teacher,” Likos said. “Teaching doesn’t have to be serious all the time.”

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Connor Gunn '23

Chemistry teacher Jim Walsh ’74 prepares to finish his 41-year-long teaching career at De Smet Jesuit.

Riding off into the sunset

Over his many years of teaching, Walsh has seen major changes, yet also many things stay the same around the halls.

“The students have changed but really only in mirroring societal changes,” Walsh said. “The energy and charisma of the students have remained the same, the excellent caliber of students is the reason I have enjoyed every one of my 41 years.”

In an illustrious career, there has been a multitude of moments that have made an impact on Walsh, but there are a few big themes, in particular, that he loved.

“Working with the other faculty has been so fulfilling,” Walsh said, “and what I’ve learned from different role models and mentors over the years has been great.”

Overall, pride in this institution has kept Walsh coming back all these years.

“The way the student body has come together many times through tragedy is really impressive,” Walsh said. “The pride I have being able to say I am associated with this place when a group or an individual does something incredible is immeasurable.”

After such a long career there are some things Walsh will miss about the school.

“I’m going to miss the energy, positivity, and comradery of the students,” Walsh said. “They have continually given me new life, day after day, year after year. I wish them all the best.”

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