Community Education / Activities Administrative Assistant Jean Feldman retired after 36 years.
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It may seem that there is a light bulb missing in Yellow Medicine East Community Education Office, but it has nothing to do with a burnt out filament. After 36 years, Community Education/ Activities Administrative Assistant Jean Feldman retired this past week and with her she takes her glowing, sunny disposition that, unlike the changing of a light bulb, isn’t so easy to replace.
“It doesn’t even seem possible,” said Feldman. “It’s like, where do all these years go? They go really fast.”
Born on a farm nine miles north of the riverside city, Feldman has spent almost her entire life learning, living and working in Granite Falls. She attended kindergarten through high school in the local district, leaving only for a brief stint to obtain a Medical Secretary’s degree from the Alexandria Vocational and Technical school, and returned home in 1977 with her husband, Herman.
Initially, she spent a few years working as a secretary at the hospital and one year serving in the same capacity for Great Plains Natural Gas. After that, she’s been ingrained in her role with the district, working alongside YME Athletic Director mainstays Dave Brokke, for some 29 years, and Tim Knapper, for the past eight.
A multi-tasking people-person
As Community Education/Activities Administrative Assistant Feldman was responsible for handling a number of duties, whether it be coordinating athletic events, developing multi-generational activities or putting together Community Education brochures for winter, spring, summer and fall.
“What I don’t think people probably understand and appreciate, if they sat at her desk for any period of time, is the pace of the position,” said Knapper. “On a normal day its like three balls in the air, and you can do that, but there are days, particularly in the spring when there’s so many events going on that it’s like trying to juggle 13.”
Knapper said that Feldman obviously excelled as a well organized multi-tasker, but that she also had a special touch with all spectrums of people, whether student or parent, toddler or senior citizen.
“She’s got a gift,” Knapper said, “She’s very personable and handled a lot of situations, some very sticky situations, very well––and it’s going to be tough to find somebody with those personality traits that are going to match hers.”
Asked to describe what allowed her to stay so positive, Feldman’s response re-affirmed Knapper’s comments that it was something innate, the only way it made sense for her to be.
“Community Ed is people helping people.” That’s kind of been our theme throughout all theses years,” she said. “Serving people. Helping... That’s my favorite part of the job.”
Looking ahead, back
Looking down the road both Feldman and Knapper are excited about what the next person in line will have the opportunity to bring to the position. One of the biggest changes she said she has seen is introduction of the computer. And while she’s certainly held her own with the rapid developments of technology, she admits that there is potential for efficiencies that somebody new to the position will likely be more suited to integrate.
Otherwise, the changes to the job worth noting have been more at the societal level, and there was one in particular she conveyed.
“Parents are more demanding than they used to be,” she said. “They’re looking out for the good of their child, and I understand that––but a lot of demands are put on teachers, coaches and that sort of thing, more than that of the past.”
Feldman, for her part only had good things to say about the district and where it is being orientated heading into the future. “We have some very dedicated teachers and staff who go above and beyond, and they don’t always get the recognition they deserve. We have a nice school system and people don’t always give it the credit that it’s due.
As for her future, Feldman said that she and her husband are looking forward to retiring to a cabin on Big Stone Lake. Herman will say goodbye to his post at Granite Fluid Power come August, and thereafter they’re both excited to see what this new chapter in life will bring.
Feldman says she’ll continue to volunteer at the local food shelf and for Rice Hospice, and of course the quality time they spend with their family will have the opportunity to be a bigger focus. Their son, Chad, is based in Sioux Falls and their daughter, Tasha, works as a Special Ed teacher and basketball coach at Yellow Medicine East. Between the two, there are also a trio of grandchildren, who surely won’t mind giving the pair of retirees company lakeside.
“It’s been a good place to live, raise a family and work,” said Feldman of Granite Falls. “It’ll be hard to leave, but we have a lot of connections here and we’re only an hour away.”