Juhnke and Wedel retire from NHS


Roger Juhnke and Chris Wedel will be leaving NHS at the end of the academic year due to the decision of retirement. During their time at NHS, Juhnke and Wedel both worked in the special education department and spent their time bonding with students and teaching important life skills.
Wedel decided it was time for him to retire partly because he became eligible for retirement and the Kansas retirement process is just finally what makes sense for him to do. When Wedel first took the job at NHS, he had many interests that were tying him to the building such as the Harvey County Special Education Cooperative starting a new program. The Co-Op had approached Juhnke to see if he would be interested in helping start the new program. Wedel then left the Reno County Special Education Cooperative and came to USD 373. Besides being involved in special education, Wedel has had many other responsibilities at the high school throughout the years.
“Outside of the special education responsibilities, I did student council for 17 years and all three of my children came through Newton. So, whenever there were events or activities that they were involved in, I was here for all those things,” Wedel said.
Wedel says that the NHS staff was supportive then and is still very supportive now of the program that he is involved in. He says that he has always enjoyed building relationships with the students and staff the most. Wedel says he has brought many strengths to the high school such as having 10 years out of district experience. This amount of experience helped him to formulate new ideas and strategies for his department. While Wedel is not sure if he is going to seek work after retiring, he says he will continue to consider what options are out there. Overall, Wedel says having his own kids at the high school that he can see and teach, is the best part of the job.
“What was kind of special was the fact that all three of my kids came through NHS, that made it a real enjoyable process to be able to share some of that time with them. So that was kind of a nice perk for teaching in the same high school that your kids enjoyed,” Wedel said.
Juhnke says that he has decided to retire because he became eligible for retirement and has taught for 12 years. Juhnke says that he has always been interested in teaching but before teaching he had been in business for 20 years doing various things adjacent to the public school system.
“I worked as a special education math teacher and before that job opened up, I was actually a special education para for three or four years,” Juhnke said.
Juhnke and his wife have never had children, so he says that he has really enjoyed spending time with the various students and getting to know them and their personalities. He says that he has liked to see growth and maturation occurring in different students and this motivated him to go to school everyday. He was motivated to go to work because many students stood out to him and he liked to see them growing up into mature young adults. Juhnke says the most challenging aspect of his job occurred during the periods of COVID-19 which the virtual shift made things difficult but he hopes to have influenced his students in getting back on track post-pandemic.
“I’ll just use the word sort of caught up and back on track with learning math after a year and a half, remote learning and hybrid, all that sort of stuff. That’s proving to be more of a challenge than I hoped it would be, but we’re getting somewhere,” Juhnke said.
Juhnke says that he has loved watching his students grow the most out of anything during his time in the building. He says that he has loved connecting with them and seeing them and their joy everyday, whether it was online or in person.
“Like I said, I’ve been here, this is my 11th year here at NHS and there has been this group of students over the years or this group, just everyday, or virtually any day, it was just a joy to see,” Juhnke said.