Please enter your login information to view this article.
Username and Password Help
By Amber Hayden
With another school year coming to a close this month, five staff members from Glenwood City School District have announced their retirements.
Julie Lee, Mary Blaser, Ann Borgenheimer, Lu Jasperson and Duane Zielsdorf have taken the shortened school year as an opportunity to ease into retirement.
While Borgenheimer is an elementary teacher the other four have served the district residents and students as support staff.
Lee spent 30 years as a Special Education Paraprofessional, starting on January 25, 1990.
“I started working for the school district as a substitute,” Lee explained. “Originally, I subbed at St. John’s School for Geraldine Luepke selling lunch tickets, serving lunch and cleaning up afterward.”
She later applied for the Paraeducator while she was working in the high school kitchen. Her duties as a Para was with the Special Education program working with students from Preschool to seniors in high school with disabilities ranging from autism, ADHD, downs syndrome, Aspergers, antisocial behavior, emotional behavioral disorder and learning disabilities.
“Many have difficulty in certain areas such as reading, math, comprehension etc.,” Lee said. “That’s where the Para comes in. We work with these students and try and mainstream them into their regular education classroom.”
It is Lee’s belief that it is important students spend as much time as possible with their peers while still getting one-on-one help with their work to help them be successful in school.
Sometimes helping the students involves pulling them from class to complete work in a quiet area with less distractions and sometimes the students would need to be pulled out of the class because of behavioral issues.
“The plan is to calm them by going into a sensory room where they can take a break, go to the gym and let them release their energy or frustration, go for a walk around the building or anything they like to do that helps them get back on track,” Lee stated.
Lee said her favorite part about the last 30 years has been working with the kids and seeing their faces everyday, she also added work was never boring or dull.
“I could always count on the elementary kids calling my name from down the hall, running up and giving me hugs,” Lee said. “It doesn’t get any better than that!”
She also enjoyed all the Paras she worked with. She said they were the most amazing bunch of coworkers she could ever imagine working with, knowing that they understand the challenges of trying to figure out what works best for each student on any particular day as no two days are alike.
Lee will never forget the fourth grade girls’ “group hugs” and the superb teaching staff. She hopes the school district can continue to retain the current teaching/staff as the longevity of having them be invested in the students is of the utmost importance.
“By far I will miss the behind the scenes giggles with Theresa Schackett and Tammy Erickson…too bad I can’t share just a few of the many stories and one-liners between the three of us,” commented Lee. “Oh and girls, I will never forget the peanut brittle escapade!”
The most noticeable change for Lee is the rise in numbers of Special Education students and the type and severity of learning disabilities/behaviors they are bringing with them.
With more kids not having a stable home life and experiencing things they should not have been exposed to, the Para’s role in education has become even more important, according to Lee.
“The classroom teacher depends on the Para to be their partner in educating all children equally while responding to their individual learning/behavioral needs,” she said.
Lee’s most memorable moment is when she ran into a former student a few years ago, he came up and gave her a hug and said, “I never would have graduated high school if it wasn’t for you.” He then proceeded to share that information with the ones he was with, and to Lee that moment was priceless.
As for retirement, she is most looking forward to doing what she wants, when she wants.
“I have a chronic disease that makes it very hard to get up and navigate some mornings,” Lee explained. “I was missing more and more days of work, and unfortunately, it was not understood. Because of this, it was definitely time to move on.”
Lee has been an EMT with Glenwood City Ambulance Service for 23 years and is also the co-director and grant writer for the service, so she will have plenty to keep her busy.
“I am excited to be able to attend my grandchildren’s activities without being late or not having to worry about taking off work to attend,” Lee said. “I am looking forward to more grandchildren very soon! Being available for them will be the best part of retirement.”
Ann Borgenheimer is originally from Durand and attended UW-Stout in Menomonie to obtain her teaching degree.
“I have taught in Glenwood City for 25 years, and I have taught 14 years of first grade, eight years of kindergarten, and three years of third grade,” Borgenheimer explained.
Glenwood City was her first full time teaching experience.
She had decided to go into teaching because she comes from a family of educators, with four out of her six siblings also choosing teaching as their profession.
“My love of children and seeing them grow is the best job you can have,” said Borgenheimer. “I enjoy the younger ages because I feel you can make the biggest difference and have a real hand in their learning.”
The excitement each child brings to the classroom is an energy booster, she said, and she also learns as much from her students as they learn from her, which tends to make things interesting every day.
Borgenheimer believes that the expectations have gone way up and the children seem to grow up faster with the changing times. Technology has expanded, and the system that has grown academically for each child is more individualized, she said.
However, she will miss the friendships she has made over the years with her coworkers, along with the great support and love from the community, and she will miss the people and the school in Glenwood City.
“I like the friendly atmosphere and how the people from Glenwood are like my family after teaching here for so many years,” Borgenheimer stated.
Her most memorable moment was when the school held a Pep fest for the teachers that had been sick, Mr. Stohr, Mr. Imdieke, and Mr. Ottney, where the students and staff cheered and celebrated the three staff members.
“I will miss feeling like a rockstar every day,” Borgenheimer said. “The excitement of the children’s voices and the hugs you receive all day long. The expression on their faces when they figure something out that they were struggling with.”
The stories, the love of learning, and the memories are all things that Borgenheimer will be taking with her.
“Last but not least is the wonderful support from each and every parent of a child I have taught,” she explained. “I’m very blessed to have had this in my life.”
Borgenheimer has moved to Chippewa Falls where her husband continues to work, living on Lake Wissota where they will enjoy all forms of outdoor activities like fishing, boating and skiing.
Mary Blaser was with the school district for 30 years as the administrative assistant for the elementary office.
During her time with the Glenwood City School District, she provided assistance to students, parents, staff and the community, while her other duties included purchasing, deposits, and managing the elementary office.
“Technology would have to be the biggest change,” Blaser stated, in regards to the difference from when she first started to the present. “I have gone from typewriter and pen to everything on a computer. I am old-school though and still depend on notes written on my calendar or paper.”
Blaser said what she has enjoyed the most about her time with the district is the privilage of seeing students enter the building excited about starting preschool, and now she sees them enter the building as the parents of a preschooler.
Her most memorable experience was in the summer of 2016 when there was construction being done to move the elementary and high school and middle school offices.
“It meant the administrators and administrative assistants had to relocate,” she said. “There were eight of us in the Transitional Skills classroom. We each picked a spot and made make-shift office areas. It turned out to be one of the best summer experiences I have had while working here.”
Blaser did mention she will enjoy waking up each morning and just letting the day happen, and of course, being a “grandma on call.”
After serving students and staff as a member of the district’s food service for the past four years, Lu Jasperson has decided it was time for some rest and relaxation.
Jasperson, who is a proud cancer survivor, said in a profile done by the school that she intends to, “Take some much needed vacation that I haven’t had in a long time.”
Lu, however, isn’t going to be resting on her laurels for too long as she also intends on getting her business up and running again now that she has retired from the school.
But she insisted that she will miss working at the school.
“I will miss the crazy things that the kids do,” stated Jasperson.
Jasperson said that her most memorable events while working in food service was when the school had the different dress up days, saying, “Watching Jodi Voeltz’s outfits, she really gets into it.”
Lu also noted that she really enjoyed all the decorating too.
Jasperson, her husband Tom along with their two children all graduated from Glenwood City High School.
10 years after seeing an ad in the local paper, applying for and getting the job, Duane Zielsdorf decided this past spring that it was time to retire from his job as a custodian for the Glenwood City School District.
Zielsdorf’s plans for retirement are simple – enjoy life. That means sepnding more time with his wife Deb and their two children and grandchildren.
Duane, or Dope as he is affectionately known throughout the community, put the skills he learned operating his own construction company in to practice at the school and has taken pride in the work he has done at the Glenwood City School District.
“Hearing from visitors how clean we keep the school and shiny floors,” said Zielsdorf gave him and other staff a sense of accomplishment and pride.
One of his most memorable moments while working as a custodian for the school may have been one the funniest.
“I was told to clean up finger painting in the bathroom stall,” stated Zielsdorf. “However, it was not finger paint!”
Messy cleanups aside, Dope said that he will certainly miss being around all the staff and students.