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Caspersen changed careers to make impact on students’ growth

Somerset Elementary teacher Sally Caspersen has been teaching in Somerset for the last 14 years. (Photo by Jordan Willi)

Ever since she was a little girl, Sally Caspersen has wanted to be a teacher.

“I love teaching. That is always what I did as a little kid, I’d play school with my little stuffed animals,” Caspersen said. “They’d be in their little desks and I’d use the cinderblock walls of my basement as the chalkboard and play teacher with them all the time.”

However, when she finished college with a degree in health education and psychology, there weren’t many teaching positions open. So Caspersen went back to school to get her master’s degree in college administration. After graduating, Caspersen went to work for Republic Airlines in its human resources department as well as a few other companies and nonprofits as she and her husband moved around for his job.

“I loved HR, but at the same time I had always missed education,” Caspersen said. “And after a while, it seemed like the adults were acting more like kids than adults. So that made me think that it was time to go back to my first love and I got that opportunity, and to go back and get another degree, thanks to my husband.”

Caspersen got her second degree, this time in elementary education, at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and proceeded to get a job teaching third-grade at Somerset Elementary School where she has been teaching for the last 14 years.

“My main goal on going back to teaching was to make some kind of impact in the growth of kids,” Caspersen said. “I wanted to help them see that they have potential to do so many things. Sometimes I don’t think kids realize their abilities and so that is what I wanted to make sure that they saw that they could reach for the stars and get their if they really worked at it.”

Four years ago, Caspersen changed over to teach fourth-grade, which was one of the things she had hoped she would get the chance go do before retiring.

“I didn’t want to leave teaching or retire without having taught at least two different grade levels,” Caspersen said. “I like a little more independence with kids, so it was nice to make the move up to fourthgrade. It has been a lot of fun.”

The things Caspersen will miss the most when she retires is the students.

“It will be sad to leave the kids,” Caspersen said. “When you sit and see the kids that you had in thirdgrade graduate you sit there and ask yourself how old you are getting. But it is fun to see that they are reaching their goals and going on to their next step in life, too.”

If her colleagues were to tell people what area of teaching Caspersen enjoyed the most, she said they would say math because she is extremely logical. But she also loves to read because it is the basis to everything.

“There have been so many fun things that I’ve done while teaching,” Caspersen said. “Science is fun when we can do the experiments because you can see the lightbulbs go off in the kids brains as they figure out how something works.”

When it came down to picking out some of her favorite memories from her time teaching at Somerset, Caspersen said it isn’t an easy thing to do for a lot of reasons.

“Each year is so different and there are so many kids that things just start to run together,” Caspersen said. “But the third-grade wax museum project was really cool. The kids did a biography on a person, dress up as that person and then give a speech. At the beginning they never thought they could do it, but it was beautiful to see them surpass what they thought they could do.”

When the school year comes to an end and Caspersen begins to enjoy her retirement, she plans on doing many things that she wasn’t able to do as much as she would have liked up until this point in her life.

“I’ll do some traveling with my husband and my sisters for sure,” Caspersen said. “I love to sew and garden, so I’ll be doing more of that as well. My husband and I will also enjoy more time with our dogs and go visit the kids more. I’ll enjoy getting to do what I want to do for once instead of worrying about everything else.”

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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