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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Pat Friedrichsen: Just Getting Started

Monday, November 7, 2005

It would be fairly safe to say that for most teachers, their careers in education often have the aspects of a crusade.

During their tenures in the world of academia, these educators have seen, (and taught,) through a whole lot of changes in our education system.

Because of those changes, many precipitated by the influence of the teachers themselves, the dedicated instructors are constantly fine-tuning their educational expertise to stay abreast of this evolution in learning.

In Cherokee, there is one certain educator whose admirable three-plus decades of service to her school district has allowed her to teach through a veritable parade of new education programs and lesson plans.

This artful academic, who has seen nearly three generations pass through her classroom, is none other than Pat Friedrichsen, Roosevelt's fourth grade instructor and our featured teacher of the week.

No matter how you look at it, Pat's academic salad days read a whole lot like a Rand-McNally road map.

Born in Storm Lake, she attended kindergarten through the third grade in Linn Grove, fourth grade in Schaller and fifth through eleventh grade in Greely, Colo. before returning to Storm Lake where she graduated in 1966 after her senior year.

It's pretty obvious that making that all-important career choice was no problem for the new high school grad.

"I'd always loved children," Pat said. "I'd played school since I was a young girl."

"I also helped teach Bible School and Sunday School just as soon as I could."

"Being a teacher was always a dream of mine," she continued. "My extended family has many teachers: my grandmother, mother, aunt and several cousins."

For a college, Pat opted for the University of Northern Iowa and was soon hard at work pursuing her degree.

After one year at UNI, the college student transferred to Buena Vista College for the remainder of her studies.

Wanting to start teaching as soon as she could, Pat attended college through the summers and graduated from Buena Vista on Jan. 15, 1970.

The new teacher didn't have to wait long to receive her baptism by fire. She immediately launched her new career the very next day by accepting the position as the second grade instructor at Cherokee's Webster Elementary School.

For the next three-and-a-half decades, Pat would continue teaching in the Cherokee School District. At various intervals, she taught the second and fourth grades at Webster, fifth and sixth grade Title I Reading at Larrabee and the second and third grades at Roosevelt as well as fifth and sixth grade Title I Reading.

In 1997, Pat took over the front desk in the fourth grade classroom at Roosevelt, a location where she can still be found handing out homework to her young scholars.

It should also be pointed out at this point that Pat Friedrichsen's 35-and-half year tenure of teaching in Cherokee makes her the longest serving staff member in the school district.

Since one can not live by lesson plans alone, Pat has a myriad number of hobbies and preferred pastimes that keep her stress levels under control.

She enjoys gardening, reading, crafting, photography, creating greeting cards, spending time with her family and redecorating and remodeling the Friedrichsens' country home with her husband and sons.

Pat has also done a fair amount of traveling. One trip in particular was a journey through the foliage of her family tree.

"I was fortunate to travel to Norway in 2001," she recalled. "We visited the area where my maternal grandparents originated and spent an evening with relatives still living there."

"We also found both of their family farms and spent several days touring Amsterdam on our return trip home."

Pat and her husband Lynn, a farmer, grain trucker and BVU grad with a degree in Accounting, have been married for 31 years and still reside in Larrabee. They have two grown sons, Jeff, a Cherokee County deputy sheriff, and Loren, who works at the Hy-Vee Distribution Center. They also have two grandchildren, 19-month-old Jacob and Emma, who just started kindergarten at Roosevelt this fall.

As a final thought, Pat Friedrichsen had this to offer in retrospect on education and her 30-plus years of exemplary service in the academic trenches:

"When I first started teaching, I was lucky to have been hired for a job I hadn't even applied for," she recalled. "Cherokee was in need of a second grade teacher for the second semester."

"I was student teaching and was observed by Dave Deedrick who offered me a contract at noon the same day. I took the job and have been here ever since."

"This is unheard of nowadays."

"We did all of our own book work in those days, as there were no secretaries in the old Webster building" she continued. "And Phys. Ed. was held in the hall adjoining the new and old buildings if it was inclement weather outside."

"The phone was answered by a fourth grade teacher, but it seldom rang, and we ate lunch in a very small room in the basement."

"We women teachers couldn't wear slacks, only dressy pants suits were acceptable."

"This is when I really feel like I came from the Dark Ages!"

"I've seen many changes in education. Career Education, Peer Coaching, Cooperative Education, Mainstreaming, Whole Language, etc., many programs and staff members have been added to accommodate the special needs of students."

"The only program available in the early '70s was Title I Reading. The current 'No Child Left Behind' federally mandated program is the most intense I've ever experienced."

"Our curriculum continually recognizes the importance of making sure each child is successful. Numerous assessments monitor their progress and this data dictates the instruction we provide."

"Children haven't really changed. Most still get excited about learning, love praise and usually try to do their best."

"The stresses that they deal with daily have increased. Helping them to deal with these stresses needs to be addressed before any learning can take place."

"I try to make school the best part of their day. Often I can't change the stresses, but I can understand how they are feeling and reacting."

"Every day is different. I've never been bored and love what I am doing. The kids are what make this job so rewarding and have given me hundreds of lasting memories."

"I've been teaching the children of former students for many years and I always said that when I reach the third generation, it will be time to retire."

"That time is getting close."

"Where has all the time gone? I feel like I'm just getting a good start and could teach forever."

"I guess I've always been, and always will be a teacher at heart!"


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