Swanville says farewell to teacher after 41 years

By Kerry Drager, Correspondent

Swanville School Superintendent Gene Harthen, left, congratulated Kathy Detloff on her retirement and 41 years of teaching.
Swanville School Superintendent Gene Harthen, left, congratulated Kathy Detloff on her retirement and 41 years of teaching.

Love for community and career makes retiring a heavy-hearted affair, and Kathy Detloff of Grey Eagle said she certainly has enjoyed her 41 years of teaching English and literature at the Swanville school. Although it is difficult to say goodbye to a career that has helped her develop young minds, she knew she was ready for retirement.

“It is time to think about the next stage but I still love what I do. I have enjoyed my time here at Swanville, it has been my entire career. Maybe it’s good to leave when you still really love what you do before you get too tired to keep doing it,” said Det-loff.

Her role with a small school district like Swanville has allowed her to touch the lives of hundreds of students from many generations.

“I feel connected to this community through the kids I have taught,” said Detloff. “The first eighth grade class I taught are now 55 years old and some of them have grandchildren that were in my classroom.”

Her role with the school’s active theater has sparked an interest in acting and storytelling in many young individuals. She helped make theater an important part of the school’s learning atmosphere and that legacy will continue on even after her retirement.

“One of the things I feel real good about is that I will ask my students who wants to have a part in the play. Once I know how many students want to participate, I’ll find a play I can put them all in. It’s one of the perks of being in a small town school; everyone can have a part.”

Detloff has been a member of the Central Minnesota Speech and Drama Coaches Association (CMSDCA) for nearly as long as her teaching career. With her retirement, she will have more time to accept contracts with the CMSDCA. For the past several years, she has been invited to judge the Minnesota State High School League Speech Tournament. She hopes to continue to be invited to judge the event for many years to come.

“That’s a pretty cool honor so I’d like to keep doing that if I get invited,” said Detloff.

Along with the speech competitions, retirement promises Detloff time to continue playing a part in her community. Although she has not made any commitments yet, she is interested in mentoring more students and will continue to assist in the fall play.

“I would be interested in perhaps volunteering in the kindergarten class. Maybe reading to the students. I could see myself becoming ‘Grandma Kathy.’ That all depends upon where people have an interest in me helping.”

It is without a doubt that the Swanville school will not be the same without “Mrs. Detloff” written on the wall beside the wooden classroom door. The school and the community will forever benefit from her years of dedication as a teacher as well as her contribution to the drama program. To say their farewell to a teacher that has touched the lives of three generations, the students and teachers of Swanville have been busy showing their appreciation to one of their favorite teachers.

“There have been all kinds of fun farewell activities for me,” said Detloff. “The good wishes of the staff and students have been very meaningful to me.”