A fond farewell
School's out for East Ridge High School English teacher Sheila Tschida.
Tschida retires at the end of the year after spending the past 40 years as a teacher, 33 years of that spent in District 833.
"I'm going to miss all the interaction with kids," Tschida said. "It gives me a lot of positives and it makes me have a lot of faith - there's a lot of good stories coming from here.
"I will not miss the papers and the bells, though."
Tschida's road to becoming a teacher began at a young age.
"I probably knew at age 5 that I wanted to be a teacher," she said. "I was one of those kids who played school. I can't remember ever not wanting to be a teacher."
Tschida spent seven years working at a junior high in Melrose, Minn., before making her way to District 833.
Tschida has worked at Oltman Middle School -- previously Oltman Junior High -- Cottage Grove Middle School -- formerly Cottage Grove Junior High -- Woodbury High School and eventually East Ridge.
Currently Tschida is teaching five sophomore honors English courses at East Ridge.
"A lot of people get caught up in what they're teaching, and that's important, but for me it's just being with the kids and watching them learn, watching them grow, watching them become better speakers," she said. "Those are all reasons I keep doing it."
Changes in education
Since Tschida has worked in education for a total of 40 years, she said she has seen her fair share of changes occur over the years.
Tschida said one of the biggest changes she has encountered during her career has been the increased reliance on technology by both students and staff.
"The big problems used to be whether or not someone was chewing gum or Jolly Ranchers," she said. "The things that are issues now weren't even imagined then.
"I have a worry that kids are going to be so connected to their electronics that they'll forget to interact with each other."
Even though Tschida has seen many changes during her career as a teacher, one thing has remained the same - her philosophy on education.
"If kids are willing to put in the time and the work, all kids are capable of learning," she said. "But, we need to remember that not everyone learns the same way."
Tschida said she decided that this was the year to retire because of some events that have occurred in her home life - and 40 is a "good round number."
"I thought, 'Maybe, it's time for me to go to phase two and have some new adventures,'" she said.
Phase two will include sleeping, reading for enjoyment, traveling with family and volunteering at a food shelf.
"I don't know what I'm going to do after that," she said. " I'm just going to keep an open mind."
Tschida will be saying farewell in a big way, though.
She was chosen by graduating seniors to be the staff speaker at East Ridge's commencement ceremony on June 1.
"It's nice to not just be there at the ceremony, but be a part of it," she said.
Previously, Tschida has participated in graduation by reading the names of students as they receive their diplomas.
Tschida said she is excited about being a part of graduation and seeing her students off one last time.
"(Graduation) makes you realize there is good that we do and that you can see what progress students have made," she said. "I plan to tell them that they need to be true to whoever they are.
"It doesn't matter what kind of profession you end up having. What matters is the type of person you end up being."