Blue and gold balloons that say Happy Retirement

This spring, 15 Spring Lake Park School staff members are starting their next adventure as retirees. As a learning community, we recognize their tremendous contributions to our schools and community and celebrate their next steps with them.

This year’s retirees will be honored at an event in September 2021. Here, they share any words they wanted to convey to our Spring Lake Park Schools community about their journey and plans for the future.

Ann Baldwin

Retiree Ann Baldwin smiling with glasses

Speech-Language Pathologist
Centerview Elementary
1988-2021

I came to Spring Lake Park Schools after spending my first year of teaching in the Northfield and Randolph school districts. For my first few years in the district, I was at both Woodcrest and Park Terrace and also saw students from Prince of Peace and Grace Lutheran schools.  I worked at Westwood Middle School for one year. After 20 years at Woodcrest, I moved to Northpoint when it opened. During ten years at Northpoint, I spent time at Primrose School. I then moved to Centerview when it opened. I am grateful that I was able to spend my entire career working directly with students.

Besides being a speech-language pathologist in Spring Lake Park Schools for the last 33 years, I have also been the Spring Lake Park Teachers’ Union secretary for 31 years. Two thoughts were never far from my mind during all these years. One, teachers put their heart and soul into helping kids. And two, I am grateful to the teachers who advocate for our profession. The only way that teachers can keep their focus on the kids is if they receive the support they need.  I am honored to have served alongside so many of you [teachers]. Keep up the good work!

During retirement, I plan to volunteer more, travel more and be there more for my family.

Phillip Blake

Retiree Phil Blake smiling with a dog

Custodian
Spring Lake Park High School
1989-2020

I have worked nights at the high school my entire career with Spring Lake Park High School apart from two summers. I was also available to help at the other schools and at the district office when need arose.

A couple of proud moments for me during my time with SLP was being the founder of the custodial basketball team (1991-2005) and performing in the Staff Follies (1995-1999).

My retirement brings time to hang out with family, friends and the dogs as well as enjoy musical endeavors.

Best wishes to everyone in the district and community. Extra shout out to my cohorts on the high school night crew. I’m still there in spirit.

Scott Ecker

Retiree Scott Ecker smiling in a blue shirt

Teacher
Westwood Intermediate and Middle School
1987-2021

During my time at SLP, I taught 4th and 5th grade at Kenneth Hall and at Westwood. I served as a union building representative for 20-something years and was a junior varsity girls golf coach for 27 years and a 9th grade boys basketball coach for eight years.

What makes me proud about my time in SLP is the amazing staff that work here. From paras, cooks and custodians to office staff, admin and teachers, their hard work and dedication to kids is amazing! I have been fortunate to work with some amazing people who truly care about kids and their education. I will always remember the many small moments with colleagues and kids I have taught and coached in my 34 years here at SLP.

My plans for retirement are to relax, golf, fish and enjoy a little cabin life.

Bonnie Johannessen

Retiree Bonnie Johannessen smiling

Teacher & Academic Specialist
Westwood Intermediate
1988-2021

In my 37 years of teaching, I’ve taught every grade level from kindergarten through 6th grade, except 3rd grade. I started in the district as a classroom teacher at Park Terrace. I moved to Westwood Intermediate to teach in the classroom and most recently worked as an Academic Specialist. Prior to Spring Lake Park Schools, I taught Kindergarten for three years in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin.

Even though I’ve never resided in the district, I am proud to say that we chose to open enroll our daughter in Spring Lake Park Schools and she is a 2017 Panther graduate. There are also so many amazing educators that I have been fortunate to work with through the years. I am thankful for many strong leaders, especially Margo Otterness, Calista Alden, and Susan Leet. SLP staff has most recently gone above and beyond in demonstrating their strong collaboration and readiness to support each other through an extremely challenging time.

A career highlight for me has been completing the coursework for my K-12 reading license and applying that information to help students “learn to read” so they can “read to learn.”

During retirement, I plan to travel to Greece and Hawaii with my husband, spend time with my daughter in San Francisco and family/parents in the Brainerd area, read and participate in book club with teacher friends, play hockey with my “Fighting Sue” teammates and learn to play Pickleball.

Tami Lamberty

Retiree Tami Lamberty smiling

Continuous Improvement Coach
Westwood Intermediate and Middle School
1988-2020

During my time with the SLP School District, I have been a 6th grade teacher at Westwood Elementary, a 6th grade teacher at Westwood Middle School with a year of 7th grade language arts as well. I ended my time as a Continuous Improvement Coach at the Westwood complex.

A memory I’d like to share is from 1988. With mere days before the beginning of the school year, Jerry Maeckelbergh and Chris Huber offered a young newlywed from Wisconsin…gasp!... a grade 6 teaching position. I couldn’t have landed in a better spot than Westwood Elementary, teaching with George Jones, Kim Deason and Anita Gustafson. It never occurred to me then that I would serve in the Spring Lake Park Schools District for the next thirty years. And believe it or not, those years went by quickly!

Thirty plus years in one district gave me ample time to work alongside so many different people from all over the district. I had the privilege of teaching so many young adolescents and the honor of meeting so many families. As I look back on my time in Spring Lake Park Schools, I would like my colleagues, from the start to the end of my career, to know how much I treasure the memories of working together. Any kindness you shared with me, any laugh or tear, any conversation we had has been tucked away to be remembered in my heart. My life has been blessed by you and I am better for have known you, truly.

A final thought, “Life is short and we haven’t too much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel this way with us. O, be swift to live. Make haste to be kind.” ~ St. Francis of Assisi

Thank you to all who have gladdened my heart along the way!

Elizabeth Linares

Retiree Elizabeth Linares smiling in an orange shirt

Principal
Woodcrest Spanish Immersion Elementary
2014-2020

I was honored to hold one singular position while in SLP Schools: Principal of Woodcrest Spanish Immersion, 2014-2020. During my 36-year career as an educator, I worked in five Minnesota school districts. My final stop in SLP was distinctly the highlight, marked by the most rewarding work of my career.

I am proud to have been a member of the Leadership Team and treasure the friendships that came out of my time as a Panther. I feel fortunate to have been surrounded by brave, and creative colleagues at Woodcrest and across the district. I am especially grateful to my fellow principals, the WC leadership team, and my assistant, the one and only Yesica for the support, and the laughs that were abundant during the best and the most challenging of times. 

Spring of 2020 will remain in my memory as a time when I was both stunned and inspired nearly every day by how we rallied; as teams, as schools, as a district, and as individuals to face off with a pandemic. Since then, so much learning and refining and adapting has taken place, but in the initial weeks and then months, we were all called into frightening and unfamiliar territory, and we leaned on each other to stay the course. I'm proud to have been a part of that, AND glad it is now history.

In retirement, I’m enjoying a lot of the simple pleasures: sleeping, reading, gardening, pickleball, tennis, Netflix, etc. I am currently at the very beginning of a project that will bring me together with some of my friends who are also retirees and have some creative energy that's looking for a landing place.  I hesitate to say more while the plan is still in embryotic stage, but the project will hopefully feed my appetite for working in, and being a member of a multigenerational, bilingual community.

Kim Ness

Retiree Kim Ness smiling in a black shirt

Community Services Preschool Assistant
District-Wide
1991-2020

 

 

 

 

 

Colleen Saffert

Retiree Colleen Saffert smiling in a stripped shirt

Special Education Paraprofessional
Westwood Intermediate and Middle School
2004-2020

 

 

 

 

 

Becky Schleisman

Retiree Becky Schleisman smiling

ASD Paraprofessional
Spring Lake Park High School
1991-2020

During my time with Spring Lake Park Schools, I worked at Woodcrest Elementary and Spring Lake Park High School. At Woodcrest, I assisted students in classrooms, in the lunchroom, at recess, in the reading program and as a crossing guard. I am proud to say no students were hurt on my corner! At the high school, I worked with ASD students in the classroom. At both schools, I know I learned a lot from our amazing teachers.

In my 29 years at SLP, I’ve seen so many positive moves forward in the direction of available possibilities for our students. SLP has wonderful staff made up of many talents that make our district one of the finest! I’m proud to say I have four grandchildren in the district. They’re the best.

A career highlight for me is after days, and sometimes weeks, when a student would smile with excitement and say, “I get it, Ms. Becky!”

My retirement brings building a new home, spending more time at our lake home in Nisswa and relaxing with friends and family.

Best wishes to all staff and students. May your journey through life bring you proud moments and lots of laughter.

Jeff Schlieff

Retiree Jeff Schlieff smiling in a grey shirt

Physical Education Teacher
Spring Lake Park High School
1993-2021

Jeff taught Physical Education and Weight Training Classes for 29 years during his time with Spring Lake Park Schools. He was the head football coach for 25 years and an assistant wrestling coach for 15 years. He has also been a boys C squad tennis coach and a JV boys golf coach.

 

 

 

Loreen Schulstad

Retiree Loreen Schulstad smiling

Child Care Assistant Teacher
Learning Ventures - district-wide
2000-2020

During my time with Spring Lake Park Schools, I was a Learning Ventures Child Care Assistance Teacher in five of the district buildings. 

What makes me proud to be a Panther is just to say I made a difference. I will miss the laughs I had with my co-workers. I would like to thank Neil Brown for caring so much about me and the rest of my co-workers. He is wonderful.

A career highlight for me was when one of my co-workers told me I had a gift for working with children.

My retirement brings traveling and relaxing. I will also start subbing again soon. I miss everyone!

Deborah Somody

Retiree Deborah Somody smiling with glasses

Special Education Paraprofessional
Park Terrace Elementary School
2014-2021

During my seven years with the district, I have been a Westwood General Para, a Park Terrace Emotionally-Behaviorally Disabled (EBD) Para, a Developmental Cognitive Disability (DCD) Para, a Visual Impaired Para and an Extended Flexible Learning Para. I was also a reading teacher at the Rodger Sherman School in Meredith, CT.

It has been my honor to support the students and staff at Park Terrace. The community I have served is an example to others of love, kindness and support. A special shout out to Sara Sarrazin, Melissa Haggar-Olson, Kimber McKenzie and Elizabeth Ketz in whose classrooms I witnessed outstanding teaching and care for their students that went above and beyond.

A career highlight for me was supporting and encouraging our online students every day during the stay-at-home orders this past school year. I even got to dance on a student’s lawn to motivate her and celebrate her hard work.

My plans for retirement are traveling to visit our four children in four different states and to see our 11 grandchildren. I will also be subbing at Park Terrace, camping and enjoying life with my wonderful husband, Randy, whom I have shared life with for 48 years.

Wendy Trowbridge

Retiree Wendy Trowbridge smiling in a blue patterned shirt

Teacher
Park Terrace Elementary
1989-2021

I began my career teaching at Westwood Elementary. From there, I moved to Woodcrest Elementary and Park Terrace Elementary. I have taught 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades as well as being an Academic Specialist. I have been blessed to have worked with amazing colleagues in SLP. Each team I have been a part of was made up of amazing groups of individuals.

A career highlight for me was surviving the 2020-2021 school year! A huge shout out to Melissa Haggar-Olson, Kelsey Bethke and Taiwo Sodunke for helping me navigate through three teaching models.

In retirement, I plan on doing some traveling including visiting national parks and relaxing this summer. Future plans involve finding a warm place to go during January and February!

Jean Waldvogel

Retiree Jean Waldvogel smiling

Media Paraprofessional
Park Terrace Elementary
1999-2020

Prior to my position at Park Terrace Elementary, I was a para sub working in all of the elementary buildings. I also covered lunch, recess, professional learning community meetings and was a hall greeter. I was an active member of the Park Terrace PTA and volunteered at the high school as well.

I will miss the children and staff at Park Terrace. I have made many lifelong friends. I enjoyed working in the library and introducing books to the students as well as helping them find books and encouraging them to read.

I was fortunate to watch our three children go through the district, beginning in Park Terrace and also watching three of our grandchildren.

My retirement brings spending more time with family and friends, gardening and spending more time at our country home in Osakis, MN.

Peter Yelle

Retiree Pete Yelle smiling

Community Education Coordinator
District Services Center – Community Education Department
2000-2021

My entire 21-year career at Spring Lake Park Schools has been with the Community Education Department starting as a Youth Services Development Manager and more recently as a Community Education Coordinator. My duties have included: planning and coordinating youth activities, creating programs and clubs for our students and collaborating with community organizations and businesses to provide youth and adult programs. 

I have been truly blessed to work in this district. There are so many dedicated and caring people who work at SLP. I have enjoyed working with many great teachers, coaches and staff. I can’t say enough about the students that I have been honored to work with through the years, either in the Leo Service Club or through other programs. The highlight of my career has been connecting with many awesome SLP youth while doing school and community projects together. My reward has been seeing the creative students, with diverse ideas, who are dedicated and committed to their school and community.

I would like to thank my co-workers in the Community Education Department for many years of support, collaboration and fun. It has been a great ride!

What is next for me? I will continue to serve the community with the SLP Lions, spend time with my family and grandsons and pursue new passions with my newfound free time.