Retiree: Barbara Lipnick


Naomi Walker

Spanish teacher Barbara Lipnick retires after 28 years of teaching at West.

Naomi Walker, Reporter

Q: How long have you taught at West and all together?

A: I have taught 35 years in the Davenport Schools, and I have taught at West for 28 years.


Q: Where did you go to college?

A: University of Iowa, but I went to school in Mexico City and France as an undergrad. I also went to Spain.


Q: What types of degrees do you have?

A: I have a Bachelor’s in French and Spanish, and I have a Master’s in Spanish language and literature from Iowa (University of Iowa).


Q: What is your favorite grade to teach and why?

A: I like high school and college. I feel like the classes I have taught most recently, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh year Spanish and French have students who want to learn. I did not like teaching junior high because I didn’t like dealing with behavior problems. I love my subject matter, so I feel like I can be very enthusiastic about it. When I am excited about it, I feel like I can get people excited about learning.


Q: What advice do you have for high school, college and life?

A: As far as we know, we only have one chance to live so I think it is really important to find what you love and pursue that because most of us have to work as adults. It is really great if your avocation can be your vocation; the thing that you love can be your job. I have had so much fun teaching the last 35 years. It didn’t feel like work most of the time. I have always loved coming to work and the day just flies by, and it has been wonderful.


Q: How have you tried to impact students and other teachers?

A: I try to help my students understand that having a really good work ethic is what it is all about and a love of learning. I feel like if students can love learning, reading, thinking, and enjoying the pursuit of intellectual discovery, that life will be so much fuller.


Q: Would you go back and change anything about your life?

A: I don’t think so. I think it has been a really good ride. I used to wish that i went on and got my PhD and taught college but I love this stage of human development. I love working with highschool kids because they are excited about being alive and they are on their way to becoming who they are going to be and that is just an exciting thing to be a part of a person’s life in the stage of development that is so important.  


Q: Why did you pick to stay at West for so long?

A: I love it at West. I was at North before I went back and got my master’s. I think I am pretty much happy wherever I am. I taught in New York City and Mexico City and I loved both. I took a sabbatical and got my Master’s in Spanish, and I got displaced. I ended up at West and I fought it because I really wanted to stay at North. But I came to West and I loved it. I learned an important lesson which was sometimes when you think change is not going to be good, in most cases it will turn out even better. There is a saying that when ‘one door closes, another door opens’. That was a really good lesson for me to learn. We do not always know what is best for us. I love my Westenders.


Q: What will you miss most about West?

A: Definitely my students. I like being around teenagers. I will miss my students and ym subject matter. The cool thing about my job is that I get to learn all the time. There is always a different way for explaining things to people so that they understand. It is very exciting and rewarding when my students master something. I will also miss my colleagues.


Q: What do you plan to do after retirement?

A: I really love to travel so I will probably travel a lot. I also really love to read. Reading is another way to travel. I have a big stack of books that I want to read, and I will be able to read when I want to read. Also I am going to take Italian and brush up on my French and go to Italy and France. Also I just want to wake up and put on my tennis shoes and go for a long walk whenever I feel like it. Oh, and I teach online for Scott, so I will continue doing that and I might teach adults too.


Q: What was your favorite part about teaching?

A: My favorite part of course was the kids. I mean they are amazing every single year. Some people say ‘oh my god the kids are just not the way they used to be’. But I just get the good ones every single year. That is definitely the best part.


Q: How do you want to be remembered?

A: I really love it when my students keep studying language and use it for the rest to their lives. So I would like to be remembered by somebody who inspired them to continue Spanish and to want to travel. I hope I inspire my students to be kind, to enjoy life, not be afraid to take risks, and [go on] adventures.