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Special ed teacher retiring after 28 years at BV
By By Alica P. Thiele
Challenger reporter

May 14. 2013 1:51PM
Even though Annette Peterson has the newest technologies to help her, her classroom has the feel of a country school, with various age groups working together in the same room.

Peterson has spent her career teaching reading, math and the written language to children with learning disabilities. Even as a young person, she knew she wanted to go into special education, she said.

The daughter of a Lutheran minister, Peterson lived in several places growing up, including Minnesota, Montana and Idaho before landing in Centerville. She got her college education in Nebraska, then spent a year and a half teaching in a fledgling special education program in Viborg.

She spent the next four years teaching older students at the then-Sioux Vocational School, now known as Achieve, before joining the Brandon Valley School District. Her first two years, she taught special education at Brandon Valley High School before moving to Brandon Elementary for 15 years. For the past 10 years, she has been at Valley Springs Elementary.

“Annette is very dedicated to her students, Valley Springs Elementary Principal Kristi Nelson said. “Kind and caring would be words I would use to describe her.”

Peterson said she groups students by ability rather than age, with different subjects being taught at the same time. So in that respect, her classroom takes on the flavor of a country schoolroom. In addition, she will see many of the same students for several years as they age through the K-5 elementary system.

“As in any teaching position, there are days that are frustrating,” she said, “but I will miss the kids.”

With the help of assistants Nita Madetzke and Gail Bauer, Peterson uses many teaching tools, including a closet full of board games that emphasize language.

Peterson said it’s especially gratifying on rare occasions when she hears a student helping another student.

Nelson said Sarah Jarding, currently a special ed teacher at Robert Bennis Elementary, will be moving over to take Peterson’s classroom this fall at Valley Springs Elementary.

The grade school will have a going away party on May 13 for Peterson and fourth-grade teacher Vicki Jelsma, who also is retiring. Valley Springs Elementary secretary Lanette Thompson said the school’s staff is like family and may have a surprise or two for the retiring teachers. “They’ve got something up their sleeve,” she said.
Peterson said she hasn’t yet decided if she will put herself on a substitute teacher list. She might resume giving piano lessons, which she used to do. She also sings in the choir at Brandon Lutheran Church and plays in the handbell choir there. In the summers, she weaves scrap fabric into rugs at the Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, where they are sold in the gift shop.

Peterson’s husband, Greg, will continue to work at the Post Office in Sioux Falls. The couple has three daughters, one of whom lives in Sioux Falls and has a 2-year-old daughter. It was Peterson’s son-in-law who put the bug in her ear to retire, she said, and she is sure she will do some babysitting.

Annette Peterson is retiring from her job a resource teacher at Valley Springs Elementary. She has been with the Brandon Valley School District for 28 years. Photo by Alica P. Thiele

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