Retiring teacher: No stranger to change

Candy Jacobsen is retiring from Milaca’s Early Childhood Special Education program.

Although she had always desired to work with children with special needs, Candy Jacobsen’s journey to becoming an Early Childhood Special Education teacher didn’t begin until later in life.

“I was a single parent, so I was busy raising my daughter,” Jacobsen recalled. “And I had all kinds of jobs.”

Working to support her daughter, she took on jobs as a waitress, at factories and offices as a secretary throughout her 20s and 30s. At age 38, she decided the time was right to attend college and pursue a lifelong dream.

“I was driven,” she said. “I put everything I owned into storage and I moved into a dorm. I lived there for an entire year. I treated it like a full time job.”

To arrive at her work study job at the child care lab, Jacobsen was often in the communal bathroom by 5:30 a.m. Fellow students would be just getting in from a night out.

“I had my own room and it became kind of the hangout,” she said. “I guess it was homey and cozy and they’d lay on the floor and study.”

By that time, Jennifer had also enrolled at a university.

“My goal was to graduate before she did,” Jacobsen said.

Jennifer earned her bachelor’s degree in mass communication in 1991. Jacobsen graduated in 1990. One goal down, Jacobsen then set her sights on finding a position within the St. Cloud radius. Milaca Public Schools hired her on before her student training ended.

“It’s been a real growing experience,” Jacobsen said. “The best part is getting to know the families because in Early Childhood Special Education, you work very closely with the parents. It’s really different from being a classroom teacher with 25 kids because you really do work more closely with the families.”

 For the full story, see the Thursday, June 28 print edition of the Times.