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Four area teachers retiring

Jim Saliny1 / 4
James Kelly Stephens2 / 4
Sharon Freitag3 / 4
Jim Saliny4 / 4

Several longtime teachers in area school districts retired at the end of the school year, including three staff members from New Richmond and one from St. Croix Central. Teachers were asked to fill out a questionnaire highlighting their careers in their respective districts.

James Kelly Stephens

What was your position?

Tutor at the Bridge program.

Did you coach or advise a club?

I have worked for New Richmond three different times. The first was at Starr Elementary from 1979-1982. The second at the middle school in the 1990s and finally after retiring from Osceola I have worked at the Bridge program for four years. At New Richmond I have coached varsity football, varsity wrestling, varsity track. I also coached middle school wrestling, girls volleyball.

Years with the district: All together about 10 years. 20 at Osceola, 11 years in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia and two years in Bangkok, Thailand.

Retirement date: First time six years ago. This time June 1.

What will you miss the most?

Students and Staff.

What was the best part of your job?

Working with the kids; they keep you young.

What was the most challenging part of your job?

Losing some of the kids along the way. (Drop out) Quitting an activity such as a sport.

What will you do now that you're retiring?

While teaching overseas we made many friends from different countries so we have plans to visit many of them. We have a Bangkok reunion on Flathead Lake, Mt., this summer and a Saudi reunion in northern Wisconsin this year.

We are also going on a road trip this summer to many national parks and British Columbia for some fishing.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

At New Richmond it has to be the first- and second-place team finish of the track team in 1981 and 1982 with Stan Barr. We also had many place winners in wrestling at that time with Bob Olson as the head coach and I was his assistant. Football during that time was the start of Joe Jamison taking over the football position.

What is your favorite memory?

There were so many, but I think coming hear the last time and being hired by an old student of mine — Jeff Moberg, who I had taught in fourth grade at the Star Prairie School. It was kind of like coming full circle. Teaching overseas in 1977-1979 and then ending up back in New Richmond in 2017.

Linda Sislo

What was your position?

Special services teacher at Paperjack Elementary

Did you coach or advise a club?

I did not coach, but was team leader for 10 years, and a teacher mentor for several years.

Years with the district: 24 years

Retirement date: June 1

What will you miss the most?

I will miss the kids and the staff who became my second family. Paperjack was my home away from home.

What was the best part of your job?

The best part of my job was being part of a team that helped students, who were faced with challenges, want to work hard, strive for the best, and make progress that they could be proud of. I knew that if we all worked hard together, we could make a difference.

What was the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part of my job was taking the time, which I would rather have been using to work with students, to have to do paperwork.

What will you do now that you're retiring?

It has always been my goal to write a children's book.

I plan to spend a lot more time with family, play with my grandkids, take more nature and wildlife photos, do some flower gardening, go hiking, biking, and travel.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am most proud of making a difference in the many past and present students who once crossed my classroom threshold and took up residence in my heart. It makes me proud when I see a former student in a not-so-common place, and they remember me and say that they wish they were a kid again and could be back in my class. I see many of these students being successful out in our community.

What is your favorite memory?

I don't have a favorite memory ... I have 24 years worth of favorite memories. There are too many to count. Any time the kids did something to make me laugh, or touched my heart to make me cry, became a favorite memory.

Sharon Freitag

What was your position?

I taught students from grades 7-12 with cognitive disabilities, when the SCC Middle and High schools were combined in one building from 1989-1999, and when the new high school was built in 1999-present, I taught grades 9-12.

Did you coach or advise a club?

I co-directed the middle school and high school plays/musicals for five years. I also taught summer recreation classes for a couple of summers.

Years with the district: I taught 28 years with the SCC school district, 2 years with the New Richmond school district and 3 years with the Glenwood City school district, all my years of teaching were with students with cognitive disabilities.

Retirement date: Her last official day of teaching was June 2.

What will you miss the most?

My students, who truly were "my kiddos" and always will be! I will miss their smiles, hugs and laughter.

What was the best part of your job?

To spend each day with awesome students and see my students make progress, accomplish goals and succeed!

It was a very difficult decision to retire from a job that truly was my passion all these years.

What was the most challenging part of your job?

I got so attached to my students and missed them so much after they graduated. It's definitely an occupational hazard to get so attached! I will not miss all the paperwork!

What will you do now that you're retiring?

I have some fun travel plans lined-up that I am excited about, I plan on volunteering and will be job-coaching people with disabilities. I will stay busy and definitely enjoy this new chapter in my life.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I was the first teacher for students with cognitive disabilities at SCC, starting the fall of 1989. I was, am and always will be proud of the program/class I started. I am also very proud of how far the district has come and all the awesome staff and services SCC provides students with special needs.

What is your favorite memory?

This is the toughest question, because I have too many great memories to choose only one. My most recent favorite memory is that this spring our class went on an overnight trip with students and parents to Metropolis Resort, Action City and Chaos Waterpark in Eau Claire. We all had a blast and just thinking about it makes me smile!

Jim Saliny

What was your position?

Orchestra director and NRHS boys golf coach. I currently work at NR Middle School and NR High School.

Did you coach or advise a club?

For 10 years I coached NRHS boys hockey; 1987 to 1997. I started coaching NRHS boys golf in 1987 and still do so today. 30 years as NRHS boys golf coach.

Years with the district: 35 years with the School District of New Richmond.

Retirement date: June 1.

What will you miss the most?

I will definitely miss the students the most. I am the only teacher in the district who has students for seven years. To watch these students grow musically, appreciate music and grow socially has been a great aspect of my career. I get to know my students and their families well. I will also miss my colleagues. The School District of New Richmond has a reputation for hiring the best educators many of whom are my good friends. I have made lifelong friendships in New Richmond.

What was the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is hearing how much students enjoy my class. To know that students come to orchestra each day, give it their best and enjoy doing so makes my job enjoyable. I still hear from past students how much orchestra meant to them. They, too developed lifelong friendships in my class.

What was the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part of my job is going between buildings; from NRMS to NRHS each day. While this was a challenge, it also allowed me the opportunity to keep things interesting; never boring.

What will you do now that you're retiring?

I plan to do a lot of golf. I plan to spend time with family and friends; hunting, fishing, golfing and travel. I will stay involved in the community with some committees and groups that I am a part of.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am the most proud of the growth and reputation of New Richmond's orchestra program. I am proud of winning three state golf championships and I'm also very proud to have been teaching in the same district for 35 years. I am also very proud of the fact that former students come back for concerts and my current students love coming to class each day.

What is your favorite memory?

I have so many good memories, it's hard to pick a favorite. A few things come to mind; my son Andy played the violin from 5th grade all the way through his high school graduation. It was fun to have him in class. Another favorite memory is my daughter Ali getting hired at NRHS as a social studies teacher. It's been fun to call her a colleague.

A special memory goes back 35 years, being hired here in New Richmond. I was just 22 years old and had no idea the wonderful future that awaited. I am blessed to have been here the past 35 years and look forward to a future of many more years in New Richmond.

I have always been involved in musicals, plays, extra concerts, anything where it was fun for the students, I would be involved. I always enjoyed going to watch my students play in their sports, perform in other activities and support them in their endeavors.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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