After teaching as a speech therapist at Milaca Public Schools for more than three decades, Jean Steffenson is joining the ranks of long-remembered retirees from the local district. The following is a recap of her time in education:
What made you decide teaching was right for you?
A: I have always enjoyed children. When you work in a school system, there is always a feeling of hope and of making a change. I remember many teachers when I started saying working with children keeps you young. I think that is true.
Why did you choose to be a speech therapist specifically/what were your inspirations?
A: I took an intro class in speech pathology and audiology. That made me decide. I have always been geared to help others and I have always regarded communication as not only a basic need, but one that brings tremendous joy in our lives.
Where did you receive your education?
A: I started at Southwest State in Marshall but I transferred and graduated from St. Cloud State University in speech pathology and audiology with a minor in psychology. I ended up getting certified afterwards at Mankato State University for teaching children with disabilities. Since then, I had many grad courses through many colleges throughout Minnesota.
When did you start at Milaca and what was your position if it has changed during the years?
A: I started work in 1976 But at that time I was hired through Rum River Co-op under Cambridge Public Schools. All of the speech/language therapists were. Rum River decided that they would have the schools hire us instead. So, I officially signed on in 1982. I had to ask at the district office to double check on this. At that point, I was told “Our records don’t go back that far!”
In 1984, with the birth of my second son, Matthew I asked for a year’s leave. Harold Kurth (known as HK ) asked if I would consider part time. “It might give you a few years of time instead of just one year,” he said. It was a wonderful decision. I worked two days a week for 10 years. It was perfect! I was able to be with my sons, and attend events for them but continue working. I never minded staying late because I knew that I had the next day off! It helped me concentrate better on the students that I worked with instead of missing my sons.
I worked in Hayfield Public Schools for two years prior to coming to Milaca. Interestingly enough, I have worked across the hall from Matt Follmuth for a few years. Both of his parents were on the staff in Hayfield.
For the full story, see the Thursday, July 19 print edition of the Times.