ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

After 50 years in education, Muriel Stark retires from Zion Lutheran School in Alexandria

She has worked at Zion as a principal and teacher since 2013.

Muriel 495.jpg
Muriel Stark, bottom left, sits with her husband, Gene, and family at a retirement celebration Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, at Zion Lutheran Church in Alexandria. Muriel Stark retired after working 50 years in education, with the last nine years at Zion.
Contributed photo
We are part of The Trust Project.

ALEXANDRIA — For the past 50 years, Muriel Stark has either been a teacher, principal or at times, both. And, all her years in education have been at Lutheran-based schools, including the past nine years at Zion Lutheran School in Alexandria.

On Oct. 23, her career in education came to a close as she officially retired. However, she may not be officially done working as she does still plan to sub once in a while.

Stark, 72, taught mostly math and history, but loved teaching math the best. She was also an athletic director and a coach for both volleyball and basketball, and she said she learned how to keep score in wrestling. Her time spent in education wasn’t only in Minnesota, she also taught in schools in Texas and Nebraska. Other Minnesota schools were in Prior Lake and Excelsior.

Muriel3.jpg
Muriel Stark, as shown in a school picture taken sometime in the 1980s.
Contributed photo

Staying busy in retirement definitely won’t be hard as Stark, and her husband, Gene, along with their son and daughter-in-law, also own and operate Glacial Ridge Growers, a greenhouse business south of Glenwood.

However, she said her and her husband plan on doing a lot more traveling now that she is retired.

ADVERTISEMENT

When asked if she enjoyed teaching or being a principal the best, Stark said, “Both are my favorite. There are pros and cons to both of them.”

She also explained how she ended up working at Zion Lutheran Church.

Muriel4.jpg
Muriel Stark, left, pictured at a celebration for her and another teacher in honor of their 20 years of teaching.
Contributed photo

In 2013, she and her husband attended service at the church. She noticed in the bulletin that the school needed a teacher.

And then, as the couple walked out of the church, she saw a picture on the wall of the man who started the school – it was August Hertwig, a name very familiar to her. Turns out, Hertwig was her great-grandfather.

She didn’t know for sure that day, but after doing some research, she found out that it was indeed her great-grandfather who started the school. And that is how she knew Zion was the school for her. She also noted that apparently her great-grandfather started 17 churches in this area.

Looking back at her 50 years in education, Stark has many fun memories, but some of her fondest ones are field trips. Her favorite was taking students to Washington, D.C. She has been there 13 times with students over the years.

In October, she took her last trip there with a group of 39 students and parents. They ended up driving there and spent 26 hours on a bus together.

Muriel6.jpg
Students and staff, including Muriel Stark, back row, second from right, during an outdoor learning class when Stark was teaching in Excelsior.
Contributed photo

She said it was a great trip and that she was blessed with really good kids and students. Some of her favorite sites on this last trip included the National Law Enforcement Museum, the African American Museum and the Washington Monument, which she said was finally open again.

ADVERTISEMENT

Stark said for the Washington, D.C. trips, she usually has to spend the summer getting all the students and parents “cleared” to visit all the sites on the trip.

Now that she is retired, Stark said she would love to take an adults-only trip to Washington, D.C.

Working at Zion Lutheran School was a lot of fun for Stark. She said the staff do so many fun things with the students, like ice skating, roller skating, singing at Fort Alexandria during the Christmas in the Fort events and even singing during the Jingle Bells telethon that raises money to purchase food and toy baskets for families during the holidays.

She reminisced about when she taught fifth and sixth-grade students how she would have them write letters to shut-ins. She said the students loved it and that they would often get replies back from those they would write letters to.

Stark also remembered how she would have the students write a large term paper.

Muriel1.jpg
Muriel Stark, far left, who recently retired after working 50 years in education, is pictured with students and staff from a school she taught in Excelsior.
Contributed photo

As for technology, she said she loves it and loves learning new things and then teaching her students what she had learned.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she said it was a learning experience for everyone and that parents really learned a lot. She said Zion Lutheran School’s enrollment has grown since then.

“Education is an awesome responsibility and it is also very rewarding,” said Stark. “It is so fun to see children grow and grow both educationally and spiritually.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Zion Lutheran School, said Stark, has a very dedicated team of educators and staff members.

Pastor Paul Dare agrees and shared this about Stark:

“You won’t find a person who will work harder than Muriel. She is here early. She is here late. There were times when I thought that she was always here. But more importantly, you won’t find a person who is more dedicated to her students’ well-being than her. We are all so very thankful for her. She has blessed so many for so long.”

Muriel5.jpg
Muriel Stark, far right, is shown with some of her students at a school she taught at in Excelsior.
Contributed photo

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects editor and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
What To Read Next
Bettermann was a staunch conservative voice for rural Minnesota and was an organizer for the local Tea Party that was formed in 2010.
Sixth-grader Collin Aber took first place after correctly spelling "lustrum" and "cuirass."
Migration is the most dangerous thing a bird does, and if they can find open water and food in Minnesota, they'll stay.