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Five staff members retire from LSSD

Rick Coughlin, after 35 years as an industrial arts teacher in the school district, will be retiring this year. Photo by Tammy Francois.1 / 4
Mary Gagnon is retiring this year after 20 years as an early childhood special educator in the district. Submitted by Mary Gagnon.2 / 4
Harriet Mallon has worked in the district for decades as an English and language arts teacher. She's retiring this year. Submitted by Harriet Mallon.3 / 4
Terri MacFarlane, administrative assistant, has worked in the school district for 33 years. This is her final year. Submitted by Terri MacFarlane.4 / 4

With over 150 combined years of experience, five retiring Lake Superior School District employees are leaving some big shoes to fill this year.

"We will miss the retirees. We are very thankful to have had the opportunity to have them as part of our staff and in the lives of the students in our district," Superintendent Bill Crandall said.

Four teachers are retiring and one administrative assistant. Among them, they've worked at nearly every school in the district.

"The community and the school district have been good to me. It's been a good job and I've enjoyed it," said Harriet Mallon, English and language arts teacher at Two Harbors High School. She was elusive when asked how long she'd been working in the district, but she spent her entire career here since earning her teaching degree at the College of St. Scholastica.

Administrative assistant Terri MacFarlane has tallied 33 years in the district, working in five different buildings. She's been at Two Harbors High School since 1997. As for the future, she said she'll likely do some part-time work as a transition into the retired life and she hopes to travel.

"It is time to move on to a new chapter in my life, wherever it will take me," she said.

Mary Gagnon, an early childhood special education teacher, is the baby of the group. She's worked in the district for 21 years and hails from the Twin Cities. After countless visits, she and her husband decided to make the leap and move to the area.

"We always vacationed up here. We just love it up here," she said.

Now that she's reached retirement, she said she'll travel some and spend more time with her extended family.

"It's just been an amazing growth experience. I learned as much as I taught," Gagnon said.

Rick Coughlin, industrial arts teacher, is hanging up his shop coat after 35 years. He's from Cloquet and moved to Silver Bay for his first teaching job. He's shuffled between Two Harbors and Silver Bay a couple times during his career, but will be retiring from THHS.

"I'll miss coming here and working in the shop and being around the kids," Coughlin said, although he said he'll still have plenty of work to do.

"I'll have all kinds of honey-do things to do at home," he said with a laugh, adding that he'd like to spend more time fishing, hunting and travelling.

He's not stepping down entirely, though; he'll maintain his position as the head coach of the boys' baseball team in Two Harbors.

Deb Livingston, special education teacher, is also retiring from Two Harbors High School. No doubt busy wrapping up her final year in the district, she was not available for comment.

Crandall said that the district had the same number of retirees last year. The four teachers represent four percent of the district's teaching staff, "which is significant," he said. The high number of retirees is largely due to the baby boomer generation, and Crandall said he expects the number to drop significantly in the coming years.

"Fortunately, we have had the benefit of (these employees working) with our current staff and sharing their experiences, passing their knowledge on to the next leaders in our schools," Crandall said, which should make the transition to new staff members a bit easier.

Although they will find new employees to fill the vacant positions, Crandall said they won't be easily replaced.

"With the loss of our retirees comes a sense that they cannot be replaced. To an extent, that is true," Crandall said.

LaReesa Sandretsky
LaReesa Sandretsky is a Two Harbors High School graduate and Duluth native who began working at the News-Chronicle in 2012 as a reporter. She took over as editor in 2014. She covers County Board, including the Lake County broadband project.
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