a community engagement initiative of Waverly Community Unit District #6
When Jim Roeschley and his wife arrived in Waverly in 1965, they were hunting for teaching jobs that would allow them to work in the same district. “My wife was an elementary teacher, she taught first grade. This was the only place we could find…we have been here ever since,” he says fondly, “It’s been a good town to live in, a good place to work.” Fifty-seven years later, you can still find Jim helping students with their schedules in the guidance counseling office he started in 1970.
Jim says that Waverly sure has changed over the years. As he describes it, this “typical small town” has lost a few things over the years: a bowling alley, a movie theater, and some local shopping. What it hasn’t lost, Jim tells us, is the spirit of community participation in its children’s education. For instance, Jim has been able to regularly fund a variety of scholarship opportunities using funds from local donors. “The community is very active in all things,” he notes.
Jim has seen the positive results of Waverly’s dedication to students as they grow into older community members, and it makes sense why he would stay in the same office all these years, not yet moving toward that door marked “retirement.”
There have been noticeable changes in what Jim sees every day. “There’s much more counseling that needs to be done,” he says, compared to when he started. Kids seem to have “more problems” and tend to come into the office more than he remembers earlier in his career. Whether this is due to a combination of a culture of openness toward seeking help or an increase in community need, Jim has noticed the tremors in the changing landscape.
“Home life is so different [for the students],” he says, “You have families that aren’t that secure.” Another thing he says he’s noticed a shift in is the number of students who change schools during the year. With students leaving and becoming members of the district, Jim says it’s difficult to provide stable “continuity” of education. “They’re in a completely different place,” he says, “It makes it very difficult for them.”
The importance of the school as a community institution hasn’t changed. From Jim’s perspective, it serves the students well by providing a class, sport, or activity that will “get them on the right track” and offers an “extra thing that they may not be getting at home.” Jim has seen the positive results of Waverly’s dedication to students as they grow into older community members, and it makes sense why he would stay in the same office all these years, not yet moving toward that door marked “retirement.”
The problem is Jim sees his retired friends who fish, golf, or find one activity to focus on after retirement. “I don’t have any one thing like that,” he explains. While he searches for any one passion to spend time with as a future retiree, you’ll still catch him in the guidance counseling office, most likely setting up a testing appointment for a student.
“Who knows what the future holds,” he says. Isn’t that the truth, though? We can’t imagine younger Jim foresaw the changes to the area that he’s witnessed, but the nature of the job has stayed the same. Guidance is all about steering kids toward the best intersections of opportunity possible where they can make the best choices about where they want their futures to lead. Waverly is lucky to have Jim Roeschley, who has helped create routes to an immense range of possible futures and is still at it with no steam lost in his step.