May 28, 2009

Swanson retires after 30 years of teaching

By Brenda L. Shelkey

At the end of the 2009-2010 school year, commencement exercises took on a new meaning for retiring teacher, Val Rae Swanson, Underwood Elementary’s second grade teacher for the last 30 years. Retirement has been the end of a long and fruitful teaching career and the beginning of a new stage of non-retirement activities. "I read one time that the average person has seven jobs during their lifetime," said Swanson. "My only job, other than lifeguarding as a teenager, has been as a second grade teacher. Obviously, I have really enjoyed teaching here. It’s very hard for me to leave." Swanson considers her retirement a "non-retirement" type event for several reasons. "My husband needs my help and my mother is getting older and needs my assistance also. My children are scattered about and I want to go visit them." The couple, Swanson and husband George, live and farm in the Washburn area and have three grown children, Erica, Ashley, and Jordan. She said, "It just seemed like the right time to retire." Swanson taught 30 years. She took a year off when her son was born and was on a heart monitor. The administration has been good, according to Swanson, letting her teach half days for three years when her children were little. She has several reasons to appreciate the way that the administrators were willing to work with her. "There was a gal named Roberta Reck who taught the other half of the day," said Swanson. "We called ourselves R & S, like the gas station." It was one of the ways that the school was willing to accommodate her responsibilities to her young family.

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