Longtime educator to retire after 35 years
Changes are inevitable and always constant. That doesn’t necessarily mean change is easy.
Fourth-grade teacher Tom Magee announced his retirement after 35 years with the St. Croix Central School District at the March 17 SCC Board of Education meeting.
“Becoming a teacher was the best decision I ever made in my life, besides marrying my wife,” Magee said.
He began his college career studying accounting at UW-Eau Claire, but knew it wasn’t the right fit. In the middle of his sophomore year, he decided to switch to education.
While growing up in Prescott, he worked often with children, as a lifeguard, a swimming instructor and with the Parks & Recreation program.
“I called my dad and at first, he was disappointed,” Magee said with a laugh. “He was worried I wouldn’t make enough money.”
Magee never looked back. He interned for a year in Augusta, and was hired at SCC in 1979.
“It was never a job,” Magee said. “I’ve enjoyed it every year.”
Magee lives with his wife Laurie in River Falls. They have two children. Ryan, 33, is a mortgage banker and Ashley, 31, is a physical education teacher in Hudson. He has two grandchildren, Nolan and Jackson.
Magee said from the moment he began teaching at SCC, he fell in love with the community.
“I like the size of the district. I’ve had outstanding support from the community, parents and the administration,” Magee said.
The feeling of admiration is mutual. Interim SCC Elementary Principal Steve Sanders spoke highly of Magee and his tenure at SCC.
“He is such a positive person, both inside and outside the classroom,” Sanders said. “His relationships and connections with current and former students is outstanding. He has been such a role model for his 35 years as an educator and mentor to many for SCC.”
Sanders taught with Magee for three years in the 1980s and has been his principal for more than 13 years.
“His passion for education is evident in all that he does,” Sanders said. “His energy to help kids academically and socially has never wavered. He has truly left a mark on the school district.”
Magee said the highlight of his career has been his interaction with the kids.
“I have more fun with them now than I ever have,” Magee said. “My teaching philosophy has always been ‘love them like they’re your own.’”
Magee said he has always strived to make each student feel like the most important student in the class.
“Focus on their strengths, what they’re good at,” Magee said. “I think they feel that.”
Each career comes with challenges, no matter how much someone loves what he does. According to Magee, that challenge has been keeping up with technology.
“My job has become busier than it’s ever been,” Magee said. “There’s a lot of collecting data, testing kids, more busy work.”
Like everyone at SCC, Magee was affected by the fire that closed the school last April. But he looks at it as “one of the most positive experiences that came from something most negative.”
“It wasn’t an experience you want to go through,” Magee said. “But how they put that camp together in a week is beyond me.”
Magee said he enjoyed holding classes at the Girl Scouts camp and tried to make it a positive experience for the students.
“Being the outdoorsman that I am, I loved the camp,” Magee said. “We used the woods and the trails for outdoor education.”
Magee loves anything to do with the outdoors. He listed bass fishing and biking with his wife, bowhunting, snowshoeing and pheasant and grouse hunting with his Springer Spaniel as favorites.
Magee said his wife, who operates a hair salon out of their home, is also easing into retirement. While they have plans to travel, spend time at their cabin in Webster, and spend time with their children and grandkids, Magee said all that “sounds so typical of retirement.”
“I’m going to have to do something part time. Maybe someone will offer me a job,” Magee chuckled. “I need structure.”