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Pequot Lakes School District: Dunn to retire after 26 years

After 26 years at Pequot Lakes Middle School, fifth-grade reading and language arts teacher Carol Dunn is set to retire at the end of the school year.

After 26 years in the classroom, Pequot Lakes Middle School teacher Carol Dunn will retire at the end of the current school year. Photo by Dan Determan
After 26 years in the classroom, Pequot Lakes Middle School teacher Carol Dunn will retire at the end of the current school year. Photo by Dan Determan

After 26 years at Pequot Lakes Middle School, fifth-grade reading and language arts teacher Carol Dunn is set to retire at the end of the school year.

The Hackensack resident plans to travel, spend more time with her husband, Bart, and continue her side work making wool rugs and teaching others to do so.

"I'll miss coming to work and I'll miss the camaraderie with my co-workers a lot," Dunn said. "The whole middle level is so easy to work with, and it's a fun place. I'll mostly miss teaching the kids, seeing what they do and hearing what they have to say. It has always been interesting."

Dunn is a third-generation educator, following in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother. She earned her degree in elementary education from Bemidji State University before obtaining her master's degree from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

"I didn't know when I went to college what I wanted to be. At first, I thought I wanted to be a high school English teacher, but then I changed my mind halfway through, which I'm really glad I did. I have really enjoyed it."

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After spending several years living in the Twin Cities vacationing in the lakes area, the Dunns decided to move their four children - Christopher, Erik, Amy and Melissa - to the area permanently in 1988 and raise them in the Pequot Lakes School District.

"When we lived in the Cities, my in-laws had a cabin up on Whitefish, so we came up every weekend, and the kids loved it," Dunn said. "We always wanted to try living up here, so we did it. It's an area we've always enjoyed."

Shortly after that, she started at the middle school, serving first as a third-grade teacher before moving onto fifth grade. She continued to teach because she enjoyed the daily interactions she had with students, whom she described as the "heart of the school."

She also enjoyed hearing the stories those students would tell younger students after leaving her class.

"I have had a reputation of being somewhat of a disciplinarian, so a lot of times, kids are scared to come into my room the first time," Dunn said. "I think a lot of kids will just make up stories. Afterward, it seems like everyone is fine."

Now she plans to step away from teaching, planning to devote more time to her wool business that started out as a "little hobby" 25 years ago. She makes rugs and gives lessons from her own studio, and teaches summer courses on the topic at North House Folk School in Grand Marais.

"I knew I would never get to 30 or 35 years of teaching. I knew I would be way too tired to do anything else by the time I got there. I have other things I want to try, like my wool business ... It just was time."

She admitted she will miss the students as well as her fellow teachers, but feels the school is in good hands moving forward.

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"I think the school, with Mr. Lindholm (superintendent), is heading in the right direction," she said. "They are working really hard to keep spirits up. We teachers have a lot of new things thrown at us, and that is frustrating, but there is always going to be something new and once you get past that first initial part, it tends to work out."

For the teacher the district hires to replace her, Dunn suggests that person take one day at a time and don't be afraid to ask for help if necessary.

"I have loved this job. I have really enjoyed coming into work basically every day for 26 years ... I'll miss the daily meeting of the minds," she said.

Dan Determan has been a reporter for the Echo Journal since 2014, primarily covering sports at Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus
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