Three teachers retiring in district
Each year, the West Fargo Pioneer likes to recognize the West Fargo School District's retiring teachers for their years of service and dedication. This year, there is a smaller group than usual, with only three teachers retiring. The district will lose Linda Francis, a longtime kindergarten teacher; Ron Halverson, a science teacher at the Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center; and Jim Dew, a math teacher at West Fargo High School. All three have been teaching in the West Fargo School District for almost 30 years. We wish them the best as they retire.
Linda Francis has been teaching for a total of 38 years. She has taught in the West Fargo School District for the past 29 years with one year at Eastwood Elementary, teaching first grade, and 28 years teaching kindergarten at Eastwood, Horace, and the North Kindergarten Center. During her tenure, she has seen five kindergarten teachers retire; Luella Hawley in 1996, Janice Leidal in 2002, Kathy Welder in 2003, and MaryAnna Kragnes in 2005. Betty Nerby, administrative assistant at the West Fargo Kindergarten Center, has embroidered bright red apples onto a commemorative chart for each of the retired kindergarten teachers, which hangs on the wall outside her office door. This summer, an apple for Francis will be added to the row of apples.
Sharing in the joy and excitement of learning in the 5-6 year old's world has kept teaching kindergarten interesting for Francis. She has gone full-circle, teaching full-day kindergarten in Iowa before she came to West Fargo, where she taught half days, until last year, when full-day kindergarten was implemented in the district. She prefers the full-day format, feeling that it gives the students and teachers much more time to focus on learning the basics and expanding educational opportunities.
Francis has also taught summer school, and has enjoyed working at the RedHawks concessions for 10 years. She plans to spend more time with her children and grandchildren, and travel after retirement.
Linda, and her husband, Larry, have three sons, Charlie, Bryan, and Daniel. They have five grandchildren, Trenton, Caeden, Mercy, Oscar, and Emmaleigh.
"I will miss the smiles and excitement of the little ones. Also, the fantastic people I work with at the Kindergarten Center," Francis said.
Ron Halverson taught science and phy. Ed. in Sykeston, N.D., for three years, taught biology and advanced science at Gettysburg, N.D. for four years, then went to Holy Spirit in Fargo for two years to teach math and earth science, before leaving the teaching field to sell insurance at West Fargo Insurance for two years.
In 1980, Halverson decided to go back into teaching, and was hired by the West Fargo School District to teach science at the high school, which was then located in what is now the Lodoen Center. When the new high school was built in 1987, Halverson stayed on at the Lodoen building, teaching science at the West Fargo Middle School. He later moved to the high school, and then to the Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center when it opened in 2007, where he has been enjoying the first brand new building he has ever taught in.
Halverson says that the most rewarding part of teaching has been, "When you see a kid catch on to something and the lights come on, and to see the contrast from the beginning of the school year." He also feels it is gratifying to see kids come back to visit after they have graduated and see how much they have grown and matured. After teaching in the district for 29 years, he will miss the kids and the people he works with, but he is looking forward to retirement.
"When it's 15 below outside, I know I'm going to pull the covers up and stay in bed where it's warm. It will be nice to have a choice whether I want to venture outside in bad weather, or stay home," Halverson said.
Halverson has worked, selling insurance or painting houses, every summer except for three years when he was going to graduate school. He plans to do some substitute teaching in West Fargo after he retires, but says he is done painting.
He and his wife, Carol, have three children, Stephanie, Michelle, and Michael, all who went through K-12 in the West Fargo School District. Their granddaughter, Taia, is currently attending kindergarten in West Fargo.
Jim Dew has been teaching math in West Fargo for 27 years, starting at the Middle School level, and later moving to West Fargo High School. He has taught algebra classes, geometry, trigonometry, topics, calculus, and consumer math. He has also served as a coach for seventh and eighth grade girls basketball, eighth grade boys basketball, and eighth grade boys football.
"My first year teaching at L.E. Berger Middle School, I was teaching seven classes of eighth grade math, as that was the only option at that time. After repeatedly telling numerous classes that the two main things I had to teach them was signed numbers and Algebra 1, I was once again saying, "The two main things I have to teach you is..." when a student jumped to his feet and said, "math and life." It took me about fifteen minutes before I stopped laughing and could teach again," Dew said.
As a supplementary summer income, Dew has taught motorcycle safety classes, mowed lawns, and painted houses. After his retirement, he plans to teach at MSCTC, attend chess tournaments, fix pocket watches, do some woodworking, and travel. Dew and his wife, Marian, have three children: Chris Dew, Kerry Overby, and Morgan Lien.