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'It was God's plan'

JoNette Brogaard reads her kindergarten class a book during her lesson on things that are opposites at Zion Lutheran School in Alexandria. (Jessica Sly/Echo Press)

A lot has happened in the past 42 years. The Internet was invented, hair bands and boy bands shot to fame, the Berlin Wall fell, Earth welcomed the millennium, and over the course of those 42 years, JoNette Brogaard taught more than 600 children.

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After having taught kindergarten at Zion Lutheran School in Alexandria ever since she was hired in 1972, Brogaard is now ready to say farewell to the classroom.

It all began when Brogaard attended Concordia, St. Paul, a Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) college, as a church work student, later switching to a general student.

Upon graduating, she taught for a year at Norwood-Young America in Carver County. After that, she married and moved to Villard. The couple eventually moved to Alexandria.

“After staying home for a year, I decided I should probably look for a job,” she said. “I contacted schools around, and it turns out there was an opening here at Zion Lutheran.

“God had a plan. He knew what He wanted me to do. So here we are…42 years later.”

Of those 42 years, she taught for 37 and used five years in between to stay home with her children.

Teaching for so long has allowed Brogaard to experience “neat” situations. “I’ve been able to teach children of the first children, the second generation,” she said. “When you’ve been in a school that long, that’s what happens!”

She has also seen many changes to the school, including chalk boards to white boards, building expansions and advances in curriculum.

“The biggest thing is what is expected of a kindergarten child,” she said.

“They used to learn just the alphabet, and now they learn to read. So we try to give them spiritual, academic and social experiences every school day.”

Out of every aspect of teaching, her favorite part is the kids. “I love this age group, 5- and 6-year-olds. They have this excitement for life and for learning, and it’s just fun to be with them,” she said.

A younger age group also brings with it many comical moments and phrases, including one particular line that was uttered when her students were enjoying a Bible story.

“[The kids] were watching Noah’s Ark, and one of them says to the other, ‘And this happened even before Mrs. Brogaard was born,’” she recalled, laughing.

Because Zion operates a three-day kindergarten, Brogaard is able to teach and participate on the district level of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML). She currently serves as the LWML Minnesota North District president.

But with Zion transitioning to a 5-day kindergarten in the 2014-15 school year, it would become more difficult for Brogaard to juggle teaching and her responsibilities at LWML.

“To me, that was the Lord’s way of saying it’s time [to retire],” she said. “It just felt right from the very beginning that that was God’s plan.”

Brogaard’s last official day in the classroom is Friday, June 13.

But to the working world, she leaves this advice: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:16-18)


A celebration in honor of JoNette Brogaard’s retirement from Zion Lutheran School will be held on Sunday, April 27 at Zion Lutheran Church in Alexandria. A special service will be at 10:30 a.m., with a potluck and program to follow. Attendees are encouraged to bring a dish to share (the meat and beverage will be provided).

The cost is $2 per person or $5 per family. Tickets are available at the Zion School office and must be purchased by Sunday, April 20.

For more information, call Zion at (320) 763-4842. Everyone is welcome.

Jessica Sly

Jessica Sly has been working as a content writer at the Echo Press since May 2012, contributing, proofreading and editing content for both the Echo and Osakis Review. A Wadena native, she graduated from Verndale High School in 2009 and worked that summer at the Wadena Pioneer Journal as an intern reporter. She attended Northwestern College in St. Paul (now the University of Northwestern - St. Paul), where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in writing and a minor in Bible. In her spare time, she enjoys playing the piano (and learning the violin), reading, writing novels, going to the movies, and exploring Alexandria.

(320) 763-1232