Sixth grade teacher retires with parting words from kindergarten

SUBMITTED PHOTO Retiring Chatfield sixth grade teacher Kathy Hanson, second from left, is grateful for her sixth grade team of Ann Shanahan, Jodie Daniels and Paul Wagner.
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Remember the important things, and the rest will be OK.

“I have been teaching in Chatfield for the last 20 years. I have taught sixth grade language arts, spelling, art and quest for the first ten years at Chatfield, and for the last ten years, I have taught language arts, spelling and social studies,” related retiring Chatfield Elementary School sixth grade teacher Kathy Hanson, telling about her career sharing the important things students need to know.

She elaborated, “I went to college at Winona State University. When I graduated in 1982, I did not teach after graduation. I took a job at the jewelry department at the Shopko in Rochester. After working for several years for Shopko, I moved to La Crosse, Wis., to be a manager for Shopko in the health and beauty aids department. Then I decided to move back to Chatfield, and I took a para job for Chatfield Schools and at night worked back at Shopko South in Rochester in the jewelry department. I then applied at the People’s Natural Gas office in Chatfield and worked there – during this time, I met Pat Hanson, and then in June of 1991, we were married.”

Newlywed Mrs. Hanson sought a different job – or two — after getting married because life had changed and there were new people with whom to spend her time.

“I took a job in Rochester at Domaille Motors, working in the business office, and after there, I decided to go back to subbing, so I started subbing for Chatfield, Stewartville and Dover-Eyota school districts,” Hanson recalled. “During this time, we had our daughter, Marissa, in 1996, and our son, Christopher, in 1998. In 1999, I was offered the sixth-grade position at Chatfield.”

She stated, “I have always enjoyed writing, so language arts was a good fit. I truly enjoyed working with sixth graders because of their sense of humor and their creative ideas when writing. Technology has helped with giving students easy access to reference materials, and with the wireless keyboards, it helps students to type all final copies of their assignments.”

She added, “I have been blessed to work with some phenomenal people. I started out with Paul Wagner and Colin Bennett, then when Colin retired, Joanie Clement took his position. When Joanie decided to take a Title I position, Kristy Hanson was hired – at the time, we had young Miss Hanson and old Mrs. Hanson. Kristy married and now is Kristy Cook, and she took a position as technology advisor. When Kristy took that position, Jodie Daniels was hired, and then we had a bigger class of sixth graders, so Ann Shanahan was hired. Basically, for the last 20 years, I have taught with a team of excellent teachers.”

Retirement approached more quickly than Hanson had imagined, but she’s looking forward to exploring some favorite endeavors. “My husband, Pat, and I started planning for our retirement five years ago,” she explained. “He is younger than me, so he will continue working for a couple of years as an MRI tech at Mayo Clinic. After retirement, my plans are to take a summer vacation with Pat. I will continue to watch my children, Marissa and Christopher, become kind, talented and content adults. I’ll have monthly lunches with my two good friends from junior high, Janelle Koch and Pam Bluhm. I’ll be driving my convertible, making daily visits to my 96-year-old mother, Dolly Zincke, and visiting a variety of wineries.”

Hanson has some things she’s not going to miss, but there are people she’ll not get to see every day whom she will miss. “One thing I will not miss is walking across the elementary parking lot in the winter,” she admitted. “I will miss smiling students, watching students laugh and play together, morning waves from Marlys McBroom, Brian Meyer asking how many days left, visits from Sara Duxbury, all the help Desi Sherman and Kathy Gudmundson give me, and morning check-ins from Paul Wagner and my PLC ladies, so what I will miss the most are the people.”

Hanson had wisdom to share as she approaches her final day of teaching elementary school. “My closing words come from a poem Cheri Vondal had posted in her kindergarten room when Christopher was in her class. The poem was entitled, ‘All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten.’ The last stanza will be my closing words: ‘Warm cookies and milk are good for you. Live a balanced life – learn some and think some. And draw and paint and sing and dance, and play and work every day some. Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, Watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.”