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Lifelong Learning
News388245

Retirees remember decades of service to the district

June 27, 2019

With a combined 527 years of service to the district, retiring employees — including two long-time administrators — have spent decades focused on serving learners of all ages in Moorhead Area Public Schools. Twenty-one retiring employees were recognized by the Moorhead School Board at a retirement reception May 28.

Toni Bach, long-time counselor at Moorhead High, is thankful for having the opportunity to serve the students and families at Moorhead High for 29 years.

“The amazing opportunity I will always hold dear to my heart was the 10 years from 2002-12 that my pet partner Roscoe was permitted to be with me in my practice at MHS,” Bach said. “Not only was he the first therapy dog at Moorhead High, but we also were the first pet partner therapy team in Minnesota to be permitted to work in a high school setting. To be able to see the power of pet therapy helping relieve stress in students’ lives was incredible, and I will be forever grateful to have had the chance to implement this type of program in my career.”

Lauri Winterfeldt, director of Moorhead Community Education, has enjoyed seeing the growth in early childhood programs during her 33 years in the district.

“From the few ECFE classes taught in 1986, we have grown into a collaborative early childhood program, including parent education, preschool for three-year-olds and four-year-olds, and early childhood screening for all district children age 3 and above.”

Winterfeldt, who retires at the end of June, is appreciative of the support of the Moorhead community.

“I’ve often commented that our community has an embarrassment of riches,” she said. “So many community members are willing to share their expertise with their fellow citizens by teaching classes, and there are so many willing learners. I’m very fortunate that I found my professional home in Moorhead.”

Deb Pender, director of alternative learning, also appreciates the support of the community. Pender retires at the end of June after working for more than two decades with district-wide programs and services provided through alternative learning, including Red River Area Learning Center, West Central Regional Juvenile Center, and Homeless Children and Youth Program.

“Moorhead Schools and the community value a highly collaborative culture and the partnerships have enriched our many initiatives over the years,” Pender said. “I have had the privilege of being on the ground floor of building and creating innovative programs and services that through the years have continued to thrive. To see how far we have come as a program, district and community is nothing short of incredible. And I have no doubt the journey will continue.”

Art teacher Kathy Larson-Carlson and second-grade teacher Becky Wolford remember the Robert Asp Elementary second-grade service-learning project to create and sell clay frogs to raise money for the homeless shelters. Larson-Carlson also remembers creating a human mosaic of a Viking ship at Robert Asp.

Judy Kostreba, special education teacher at Dorothy Dodds Elementary, retires in September 2019 after working for the district since 1985. Her words of wisdom to new teachers is her favorite quote by John James Audubon: “The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those who sang the best.”

“We have a very diverse population of students and our schools are all the better because of it,” Kostreba said.

Besides Bach, Winterfeldt, Pender, Larson-Carlson, Wolford and Kostreba, the other staff members who were recognized at the May 28 retirement reception hosted by the School Board are Michelle Erickson, Probstfield Center for Education; Colleen Fundingsland, Red River Area Learning Center; Cynthia Funk, Horizon Middle School East Campus; Maggie Hanson, S.G. Reinertsen Elementary; Deann Holm, Horizon Middle School East Campus; Marsha Johansen, Horizon Middle School East Campus; Margaret Klindworth, Red River Area Learning Center; Steven Mathiowetz , Moorhead High School; Sarah Miller, Moorhead High School; Elvin Nerby, Horizon Middle School East and West Campus; Yvonne Ralph, Moorhead High School; Michelle Rolewitz, Moorhead High School; Faye Smiley-Aakre, Ellen Hopkins Elementary; Ann Wilson, Community Education; and Susann Zoerner, Ellen Hopkins Elementary. 

Photo: School Board members Kara Gloe, Matt Valan, Cassidy Bjorklund and Melissa Burgard recognize Deb Pender, director of alternative learning, during the board’s retirement reception at the end of May. Pender retires at the end of June after 25 years with the district.

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