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  • Writer's pictureJean Hodgson

Mr. Joe Richter

Updated: Sep 18, 2019

When you hear Valley Lutheran High School mentioned, what name do you automatically associate with it? Mr. Joe Richter, of course! And that is not just because he is the only teacher that has been on the staff since the school opened in 1981. It is primarily because of the positive impact he has had on students, families, and staff all these years.

Mr. Richter comments about the impact of his background, “I’m a farm kid from eastern Washington, and that down-to-earth upbringing has enabled me to bring a somewhat unique perspective to teaching. I didn’t know it, but faithful pastors and teachers were busy planting seeds in my young mind that would grow into a passion for sharing my love of the natural world with others from the perspective of faith.”

He has shared that passion and perspective over the years by teaching Freshman Science, Biology, Advanced Biology, Anatomy, Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Science, AP Biology, Rocketry, Algebra, General Math and Theology. For at least 20 years he was the only science teacher on the staff.

Another school involvement has been coaching. He coached varsity soccer for 30 seasons, and also coached varsity baseball and softball for a combined 30 years. Two soccer teams captured Arizona championships in 1986 and 1996. Along with coaching, he served as Athletic Director for about seven years.

When asked how he would describe the VLHS culture, Mr. Richter replied, “A Gospel community…that has created a culture in which loved and forgiven people are freed up to build meaningful relationships with God and with one another. What a joy to see this happen in the lives of teens!” Reflecting on his long history with the school, he added, “Our school's culture has unleashed a small but mighty army of Gospel-empowered leaders into the world. It is humbling and very exciting to witness this dynamic activity of God through VLHS.”

Mr. Richter’s wife, Linda, has served Valley as an administrative assistant for the last three years. Both of their sons are graduates of the school: Benjamin (class of 2003) and Matthew (class of 2008).

His professional education includes Concordia College, Portland, Ore. (AA), Concordia College, Seward, Neb. (BSed), and Concordia University Wisconsin (MS), but he continues to muse in his familiar style, “I still wonder what I’m going to do when I grow up.”

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