When 23-year-old Everett Goebel entered the doors of the still yet-to-be-completed Adams Central Junior/Senior High School, he had no idea what the future would hold.
“When I came up to sign my contract or turn my contract in, the superintendent met me out where the building was going to be,” Goebel said. “He had a blueprint on a sheet of plywood and said, ‘It’s out here.’ So I walked out in the dirt to find where my room was going to be.”
Goebel was one of the school’s first math teachers, starting there in 1968 and staying with the district until his retirement in 2005.
The junior/senior high school building still was under construction when school started on Sept. 3, 1968. In fact, construction work did not come to its end until the next April.
That scenario presents for a set of interesting challenges, Goebel said speaking from his home in Hastings recently.
“There was no north wall in the gym. There was no floor,” he said. “We had to do games; all volleyball and basketball was in the Juniata gym.”
Goebel wasn’t planning to coach any sports that first year, but when 40 boys went out for junior high basketball, Superintendent Orin White recruited him as an assistant coach.
“The superintendent told me, ‘Everett you’re going to do this,’” Goebel said with a laugh.
Goebel even saw signs of the construction work still in progress in his own math classroom.
“I’d be teaching an algebra class and you had to keep your doors unlocked,” he said. “The door would open and here would come a guy with a step ladder, set up his step ladder, pop out a ceiling tile and be working and talking on a walkie talkie while I’m teaching algebra.”
It was all much different from Goebel’s first teaching job at Hildreth High School.
Goebel attended Franklin High School, then Kearney State College. After receiving his degree, he went to Hildreth where he taught science, math and driver’s education classes for three years.
It was while there he became friends with the music teacher Dick Driml who left in 1967 to teach at Juniata High School. Driml is the one who called Goebel about the job at the new Adams Central Junior/Senior High school.
“When they were going to build a new school, he called me and said, ‘Everett, you really need to apply for a job. This is going to be a neat place to work.’ So I did,” Goebel said.
Goebel had preferred and felt more comfortable with the math classes he was teaching in Hildreth, so that’s what he taught at Adams Central.
Over the next 37 years, Goebel taught mathematics along with driver’s education, served as a coach and assistant athletic director and began and led for many years the school’s computer education program.
“Something I was really proud of doing out there is getting the computers started,” Goebel said.
It was about 1981 when Goebel went to the superintendent and made his proposal.
“When I went to ask for something, I always had written down this is what I want this is, what it is going to cost and this is what your students are going to get out of it, and 99 percent of the time I got exactly what I went in asking for,” he said.
In that case, Goebel was asking to purchase four Apple II computers, something the superintendent wasn’t impressed with.
“I went in and talked to the superintendent and he said, ‘They’re just a fad, just a toy.’ I said, ‘No, kids are going to need to know how to use these,’” Goebel said.
Goebel said he remembered the superintendent finally approving his request but requiring him to put partitions between the computers because he thought students would somehow cheat off each other’s screens while working.
In those days, the technology was changing so quickly that Goebel said there weren’t really any classes he could take to educate himself. Instead, he said he was often learning something one day and teaching it the next.
“Computers at that time had no software,” he said. “Early on there was no word processing, spreadsheet, database, anything. You had to program the thing to make it do what you wanted to do.”
He struggled in those early years to create a curriculum because the technology was changing so rapidly, but he knew computer education was important and was proud to continue it throughout his career.
Goebel said he believes there is no doubt the district’s first superintendent definitely helped set the tone for the district.
“Orin White was in charge,” Goebel said. “He was absolutely the drill sergeant. ‘You do this.’ ‘You do it this way.’ He would let you know.”
He said the first board of education also was adamant it wanted good discipline and good instruction. And Goebel said parents of the district bought into the idea, as well.
Male teachers were expected to wear shirts and ties every day to school, and there were no caps allowed inside the building.
“You did not step in the building without a shirt and tie and preferably a sport coat. Coat was optional. Shirt and tie was not,” he said. “When you were sitting on the coaching bench you had the shirt and tie on. No kid wore a cap in school. Those came off at the door.”
Goebel said that strict standard helped to set a tone for the district that created a strong community among the teachers, staff, parents and students.
He served on the salary negotiation committee for about 25 years and in that time, Goebel said the discussions were always civil even in a time when that was not the norm.
In the 1970s, Goebel said the Nebraska State Education Association was really getting organized and would put out comparability studies on salaries for districts to use in their negotiations.
Goebel said many school districts would find themselves going to court when negotiations would turn sour and no agreements could be made.
“There were not many times when we couldn’t go in, two of us teachers and the superintendent and two or three board members, and set down and settle it in one night,” he said.
In the end, Goebel said, he stayed for nearly four decades became of the place and the people.
“I really enjoyed teaching classes,” he said. “It just seemed like, ‘I hope I was doing some good.’ ”
And for him, it was about more than just teaching mathematics.
“It isn’t teaching kids how to use a calculator or computer,” he said. “It’s teaching kids to think. You can’t possibly teach anybody all they need to know for their whole life. You’ve got to teach them to reason, think deductively and reason logically, and they can figure out what they need to know.”