Jeanne Van Drasek retired as a Third Grade Teacher
at Rockford Elementary Arts Magnet School
She retired spring, 2015
The photos above: First year teaching in 1980 and first class at RMS in 1981!
1) Where did you grow up?
I was born in Wells, MN and moved to Worthington, MN when I was 5 years old. I grew up in a family of eight.
2) What High School did you graduate from?
I graduated from Worthington Senior High School. My favorite HS memories are being part of the marching band.
3) Where did you go to college? Additional education?
I earned my BS degree from St. Cloud State University with a double major in special education and elementary education.
I earned my Master’s Degree from the University of St. Thomas in 2002.
4) Did you always want to be a teacher?
Yes, I always wanted to be a teacher. My younger brothers and sisters and I always played school when we were young. In high school I became interested in becoming a special education teacher.
5) How many years have you been a teacher?
I have been a teacher for 35 years. I’ve taught at Rockford for 30 years.
I have been married to my supportive husband, Rob, for almost 35 years (this summer.) We have 4 adult children; Liz, Laura, Robyn, and John. We have two grandsons, Caleb and Nolan, and are blessed with all of our family living in the Twin Cities area, so we are able to get together often.
7) What grade(s) have you taught through out your career?
I began teaching students with developmental and cognitive disabilities at RMS May 3, 1980. I also was a resource teacher, teaching students with learning disabilities in the 1980’s and early ’90’s. I have taught 6th, 5th, 4th and 3rd grades at RMS and REAMS. For several years, students stayed in my class for two years; for grades 3 & 4 or for grades 4 & 5. We called this “looping.” I have always enjoyed change. It keeps me “young”and creative. Whatever level I am teaching is my favorite! Right now it’s third grade!
8) What do you look most forward to everyday at Rockford?
I most enjoy my time with students when we can take what we have learned and apply it to real life situations. I especially enjoyed teaching theme based units infusing all academic areas into one topic. Nye Park was always a wonderful 5th grade field trip. I also enjoy seeing students’ confidence soar. With confidence anything is possible!
9) What is one of your most memorable moments as a teacher?
It’s so much fun to hear from former students once they have graduated from HS and college/technical school. It’s wonderful to hear what they are doing and hear about their amazing life experiences as they become adults. It’s been awesome to see former students become published authors, marry classmates and start a family, return to college to finish their degree, become teachers themselves, join the military, and discover so many other wonderful passions. I love having them stop in to visit after school or write me a letter or short note.
10) What advice would you give a brand new teacher?
Teach your students as you would want your own children to be taught.
11) What will you miss most about teaching in Rockford?
I know I will miss the kids and being able to impact so many young lives. They grow and change so much in one year. I will miss being a part of that. I’ll miss seeing the world through the eyes and the words of eight and nine year olds. They get so excited by little things. I’ll miss read-aloud time. I’ll miss the excitement kids show when they suddenly understand or they become such confident readers that they can’t wait to read their books. I’ll miss their smiles, their hugs, and their laughter.
I’ll also miss the great teachers and fabulous support staff I have worked with over the years. Rockford is fortunate to have so many teachers and staff who are truly devoted to the students.
12) What are your plans when you retire?
When I retire I plan to take piano lessons! I’ve always wanted to since I was a child. All of my children took lessons and now it’s my turn! I’m looking forward to having more time to read and more time to travel. I have three trips planned and on my calendar already! I plan to spend more time with my mom and with my grandchildren, and my husband and I hope to do more bicycling together. I love gardening and will be leisurely canning fruits, vegetables and salsa this fall rather than rushing to get it done. This winter I plan to do more sewing and quilting. I have many volunteer opportunities in my church, schools and community that will keep me busy.
I would like to say thank you to the many many parents who have supported their children by supporting me as a teacher. Teachers cannot do it alone. We need the support of every parent to make sure each child reaches their greatest potential. Thank you for sharing your children with me!