Teacher Feature: Mrs. Rachel Utecht

Rachel Utecht will be the K-3 techer in the upcoming school year. She recently moved to Hot Springs from Redfield, SD, where she taught 4 years of K-12 Art and 9 years of Kindergarten. She has also taught Reading Recovery, Title 1 Reading, Library School and Pre-school.

Mrs. Utecht is a graduate of Concordia University, receiving her BS in Education with an Art Concentration. She has a passion for teaching young children and giving them their best start in their educational and faith journeys.

What are some of your hobbies and interests?

I love to read historical, non-fiction books, try out new recipes, go for walks and travel to new places.

Can you tell us a little about your family?

My husband’s name is Pete. We have 3 children: Noel (ww), Micaiah (20), and Kyra (17).

Favorite color? Favorite season?

Green is my favorite color. Autumn is my favorite time of the year because I love football, cooler temps, the colorful leaves, pumpkin recipes and hot coffee drinks.

What are some “words of wisdom” you live by?

“I can do all things through Jesus Christ, who strengthens me.” ~Philippians 4:13

What would the perfect day look like to you?

I would be at the ocean with my family. I’d be lying on a raft in the sun and there would be a cool breeze blowing. The waves would rock me to sleep. After the beach, we’d get a bucket full of shrimp!

If you could sit down with anyone from the past or present and have a conversation, who would it be?

I would have breakfast at an open-air cafĂ© with Vincent Van Gogh. We would discuss his inspiration for painting “The Starry Night” or “Sunflowers” while we ate beignets and drank coffee.

What is one of your biggest goals in life?

My biggest goal in my life is to raise my children to have faith and integrity. I also hope to be a life-long learner and live a healthy, active life.

Why did you come to Hot Springs?

My husband was called to be the paster of Bethesda Lutheran Church in Hot Springs. We are planting our roots in Hot Springs and love it here!

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Teaching children is my passion! I love that students LOVE learning! They pretend, sing, and dance. They come in happy every morning and enjoy even the little things. They “fill my bucket” and I hope I fill theirs, too!

What advice would you give others looking into the field?

You need to have mountains of patience, but the rewards are priceless!

What is one of the most interesting conversations you have had with the children you work with?

I have hazel eyes and one time a student came up to my desk during rest time. She looked into my eyes and said, “Mrs. Utecht, you have sunflowers in your eyes!” Later, I looked in the mirror and sure enough, in the middle of my eyes were sunflowers. That has always stuck with me because it made me feel very special!

What are some of the challenges?

At this time in my life, the biggest challenge is trying to balance school, family, and time for myself. I want to do it all, but recognize that I have to prioritize and do the best I can.

What is something you have learned?

I have learned to try my best, learn from my mistakes and forgive myself when I fall short

What does a typical day look like for you?

My alarm wakes me up at 5:30 a.m. I love my quiet time eating breakfast, drinking coffee and reading the newspaper. I try to walk in the mornings. Then, I’m off to school for new adventures! After school, we can often be found cheering for our children in their various sports and activities. I always try to read before I go to sleep.