Final roll call: 17 District 518 employees set to retire
11:37 a.m. edit: An additional retiring teacher unintentionally omitted from Wednesday's print edition was updated.
WORTHINGTON — Friday’s pool of graduates aren’t alone in walking District 518’s halls on a daily basis for the last time before entering their next phase of life.
Joining the recent graduates in saying goodbye to the district is a roster of 17 retiring staff members who have dedicated anywhere from nine to 38 years of service to current and former District 518 students.
Retirees, their position and years of service include: Pat Moser, ALC math teacher, 14; Jolene Hofmeyer, second-grade teacher, 30; Linda Huisman, Prairie Elementary nurse secretary, 29; Roxanne Kremer, Prairie Elementary kindergarten teacher, 25; Sandy Cuperus, Prairie Elementary paraprofessional, 26; Cynthia Sieve, WMS paraprofessional, 18; Pam Scheepstra, WMS paraprofessional, nine; Diana White, Prairie Elementary custodian, 27; Kris Vorwald, first-grade teacher, 16; Colette Von Holdt, WHS paraprofessional, 31; Kathy Craun, sixth-grade teacher, 25; Ingrid Langseth, Prairie Elementary paraprofessional, 21; and Kathy Schreiber, ALC science teacher, 15.
Teachers that retired following the 2016-2017 school year and gave their notice later include Teryl Cummings, Prairie Elementary paraprofessional, 38; Theresa Rodenberg, WHS food service, 16; Mary Sieve, Prairie Elementary food service, 27; and Bonnie Tillie, Prairie Elementary paraprofessional, 16.Kremer: educating the citizens of tomorrow
As District 518 kindergarten teacher Roxanne Kremer greeted her students Tuesday morning — which she considers her little family — the kids excitedly told her about their weekend. Well attuned to the routine, the kids formed a single-file line, and Kremer interacted with them as she briefly peeked at the ground, searching for any stray shoestrings. She didn’t find any, but she helped one boy get his sandals on the right foot.
“What happens in kindergarten, stays in kindergarten,” said Kremer, laughing, as she summarized the last 18 years of her more than 30-year teaching career.
Kremer will simultaneously end the school year and her 25-year teaching career at District 518 June 5.
“I’ve really loved what I do,” an enthusiastic Kremer said Tuesday morning from her Prairie Elementary classroom complete with a numbered carpet rug and alphabet posters. “I’ve just been trying to make an impact on the citizens of tomorrow.”
Kremer’s interest in being a teacher began when she was a little girl living on a farm outside of Fulda.
After graduating from Fulda High School, Kremer earned her teaching degree from Concordia College and later received her kindergarten endorsement from Mankato State University. Prior to her teaching career at District 518, Kremer also taught at Plummer and Magnolia and subbed in Hanska and Madelia.
In 1990, Kremer and her husband, Jim, returned to the area when they bought the Wilmont Oil Company.
To stay semi-active in teaching while helping run a small business, Kremer substitute-taught at District 518 for three years, where she formed a working relationship with the late Bev Meyer.
Meyer informed Kremer she was going to suddenly retire, and encouraged her to apply for her position as a multi-age teacher for grades four through six at West Elementary.
“I really owe it all to her,” Kremer said.
In 1993, Kremer joined Beth Westra and Sandy Ahlberg teaching in the multi-aged setting. She loved the working relationship with her co-workers and taught in that age level for seven years before transitioning to a kindergarten classroom.
Kremer spent just one year as a kindergarten teacher while at West Elementary before Prairie Elementary opened in 2001. There, she’s been a permanent occupant of room 107.
“In kindergarten you can visually see the most growth,” said Kremer, who has taught all elementary-aged grades but first. “Their eyes sparkle when they get it.”
Kremer’s influence stemmed beyond elementary-aged students. Throughout her career, Kremer has has opened her classroom’s doors to high school and college students that either volunteered, observed or student-taught.
“I liked being able to give back in that way for the next generation of educators,” Kremer said.
Among the many things Kremer will miss in her retirement are the camaraderie and teamwork between she and other District 518 kindergarten teachers, EL teachers and support staff.
While there’s plenty to miss, Kremer will not be a stranger to District 518, as she has plans to be a long-term substitute teacher in the immediate future.
She’s looking forward to being a grandma, traveling, helping her mother and enjoying life at a different pace.Huisman: healing students with a smile
From bumps and scrapes to tummy aches and fevers, Linda Huisman has greeted kids experiencing the gamut to the health office for the past 29 years.
Since 1989 in West Elementary, the district’s elementary health office secretary has been the first to greet students and open dialogue to try and determine the root of the ailment they’re feeling.
Huisman’s duties have involved basic care like taking temperatures and giving daily medications, but her main duties have included documenting each student’s visit for record keeping and phoning parents or guardians when a student needs to go home for the day.
“That’s the hardest part,” Huisman said about her job during a time of day when a student’s parents or guardians are typically at work, or sleeping after working a night shift.
However, seeing anywhere from 30 to 40 kids a day and having that constant dialogue with parents, Huisman said she has been able to get to know many area families.
The 1972 Fulda High School graduate from Wilmont said she applied for the job in 1989 because she always wanted to work with kids and in the school district. The job seemed to be a good fit for Huisman, who attended Pipestone Vocational for a year-long secretarial program.
While a 29-year dedication to the district could be seen as a major accomplishment to many, as Huisman reflects on her career, her ability to largely avoid the illnesses the kids have exposed her to over the years is a deserving accomplishment of its own.
“I’ve been very lucky,” Huisman said.
Huisman said she’s remained content in her position throughout her career, which she attributes not only to the students, but her awesome co-workers, friends and teachers she’s met.
She’s looking forward to the next phase of life, and there’s more changes than one.
Having recently built a house on Lake Shetek with her husband, Roger, Huisman said she is excited to enjoy time with family and friends out at the lake.
“And hopefully do some more fishing,” she said.