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Retired teachers to share memories at the fair

Retired teachers will share their memories in the country schoolhouse at the Douglas County Fair. Everyone is invited to come talk with them and hear their stories.

Retired teachers taking part in this year's fair are listed below, along with the time they will be in the schoolhouse.

Lavina Larson

Thursday, August 19

2:30 to 4 p.m.

Lavina Larson's teaching career began in 1945 and spanned more than 12 years.

She recalled that there was only one year of training, but there was an excellent Normal Training instructor in Glenwood. These teachers were well qualified to teach and most of them went on to get their degrees and remain in the teaching profession.

Larson walked a mile and a half to school, usually with a neighbor girl. She never had more than one classmate in her grade level.

Larson's mother encouraged her to go to college since she was never able to go, so Larson attended St. Olaf College from 1941-1945 with a double major in history and math education.

She taught one year in Glenwood and the next 11 years at Central High School in Alexandria, where she taught 9th and 10th grade geometry and algebra.

She also substituted in District 206, from boys' physical education class to French class. She started doing homebound teaching in four different subjects for grades 7-10.

After Larson's husband passed away, she got a call from Jefferson High School to help in the algebra department. She renewed her teaching certificate and accepted the job.

For 10 years she volunteered at Voyager Elementary School, helping with math in 3rd and 5th grades.

The major change she has experienced in her teaching career is learning to multiply in three different ways. She feels that the old fashioned way was the best.

Larson recently celebrated her 87th birthday and is still volunteering at Voyager Elementary School.

Tom Savageau

Thursday, August 19

4 to 5 :30 p.m.

Tom Savageau is from Fargo, North Dakota where he attended Shanley High School. He graduated from North Dakota State University in 1966 with a major in business. He was enrolled in the ROTC program and upon graduation was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Army.

After his discharge, the G.I. Bill helped Savageau through graduate school to obtain a degree as a guidance counselor. He was hoping to do counseling work on a college level, but in need of a job, he took a counseling position at Central Junior High School in Alexandria. He held this position for six to seven years before taking a position with the H. Boyd Nelson Company. He soon realized he missed counseling, and within two years returned to the junior high where he remained for 32 years until his retirement in 2005.

Savageau also served as an assistant boys' hockey coach for four years and coached 8th grade football for five years.

As a guidance counselor, he met with students who had academic issues or transitional situational/depression issues.

He met with 9th graders, assisting them with potential career choices. He worked with orientating new students and led groups of kids with behavioral issues and self-referrals.

Savageau said, "A good counselor knows when to refer," either to a school psychologist or to mental health.

Since his retirement he has done some substitute work because he misses the kids and staff. He has also done volunteer work with Elder Network, the Douglas County Outreach Food Shelf and at the V.A. Clinic.

Denny Kalpin

Friday, August 20

2:30 to 4 p.m.

Denny Kalpin was a standout athlete in Parkers Prairie High School. He credits a small school setting for allowing him to participate in everything - music, drama, sports, student council and school clubs.

He graduated from Augsburg College with a major in math education. He played baseball and captained the football team as a quarterback.

He began his teaching career in Belgrade for two years, then moved to Fargo where he taught and coached at Oak Grove High School for 10 years. He moved on to Fargo North High School for four years and spent 14 years at Fargo South High School. He worked with the Fargo Recreation Program during the summer.

He moved to Alexandria in 1990 where he taught math at Jefferson High School and became the head football coach for the Cardinals. He was involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and encouraged students and athletes to become involved also.

He was instrumental in promoting the building of a YMCA in Alexandria.

Kalpin's career includes 40 years of teaching, 47 years of coaching football, 29 years of coaching basketball, 25 years of coaching softball, seven years of coaching track and two years of coaching baseball.

He has seen many changes in the math program and feels that the "oldest method is still the best."

A favorite memory he has is of a 1993 football game when the 8th ranked Cards beat undefeated, number 1 ranked Wayzata 7 to 6.

Kalpin says he misses coaching and the contact with the kids, saying that is what kept him feeling so young.

Many awards and accolades have followed him for the influence he has had on many young lives.

Carol Feldman

Friday, August 20

4 to 5:30 p.m.

Carol Feldman attended Winona State College, where she was captain of the swim and tennis teams. She also played varsity softball and volleyball.

She began teaching in 1968 at Central Junior High School in Alexandria as the girls' physical education/health and swimming instructor.

Feldman was an ambitious pioneer of girls' sports. She organized the first girls' gymnastic, tennis, track and basketball teams. She also tried to set up a golf team, but it interfered with track.

Many of her memories are of inadequate or "challenging" facilities. Outdoor physical education activities were either held in "the pit" (now the lower parking lot for the Douglas County Services Center) or up on the hill (now the upper lot for the Services Center), which posed challenges with the cramped conditions and nearby roadways.

Some activities were held at the Knute Nelson ballpark, which required taking students across busy streets. Races had to be run on the sidewalks around the school.

Feldman was also a pioneer in adapted physical education, which she began locally in 1981 and taught in Brandon, Parkers Prairie and Osakis.

Her interest in Special Olympics began in the late 1970s. She helped with a Special Olympics track meet in Moorhead and came back with a new idea of what she wanted to do next.

Feldman retired in 2002, but missed the students. So, when asked to coach an adapted bowling team, she couldn't refuse. Her teams have bowled successfully against other teams throughout Minnesota. In fact, this year's team took 3rd in the state tournament.

Feldman is still substitute teaching.

Bonnie Lutz

Saturday, August 21

2:30 to 4 p.m.

Bonnie Lutz has accomplished some remarkable feats in her career, including being named 1993 Evansville School Teacher of the Year and Minnesota State Teacher of the Year, 1997 Milken National Teacher Award Winner and June Gills Inspirational Teacher Award Winner.

Lutz taught elementary school full time for 27 years, besides substitute teaching for five years when her children were preschoolers. She taught in Hoffman, Wendell, Barrett, Elbow Lake and Evansville.

She retired in 2006 to "enjoy life" with her retired husband. Within a few weeks, her husband died of a massive heart attack.

"I lost two of my greatest loves, one right after the other - my teaching and my husband," she said. "The year that followed was one of deep grief, and many times I did not know whether I was grieving my husband or grieving my students and teaching."

She later volunteered at the Heritage Academy (a K-6 enrichment gifted/talented program in Fergus Falls) and wrote grants to raise funds for the Morning Son Christian School in Fergus Falls in 2008.

Lutz's passion for teaching was passed on to her children - her daughter teaches 6th grade in Fergus Falls and her son teaches English, math and religion in a middle school in Australia.

Lutz is saddened by the way education has changed over the years.

"Testing became so important that somehow the love of learning got lost in the shuffle," she noted. "I had developed wonderful Native, African and Asian units that always ended with a party, where we celebrated our likenesses and unique differences. With the emphasis on test scores came the falling away of these activities. There just was no time to do it all.

"This made me sad, and teaching was not quite as much fun."

Although no longer teaching, Lutz still considers herself a strong child advocate.

"I have not retired from striving to make every child's life better in any and every possible way," she noted.