Christopherson hangs up apron after nearly 32 years
After earning her Bachelor of Science degree from UW-Stout, Kerry Christopherson didn't want to become a teacher.
However, to gain experience in the interviewing process, she was told to do a couple.
Her first stop was in Ellsworth for the then-vacant junior high/middle school home economics position.
It turned out to be her only interview because she got the job. She started in January 1976 and hasn't left.
"It wasn't my intention to teach this long," she said. "But there was something magical about Ellsworth students."
When this school year ends, it will mark her last one, as she will retire.
"The timing was right," she said when asked why this year was it.
Christopherson was one of 13 teachers in the school district who announced they're retiring this year.
With the school district undergoing a consolidation next year and the high number of retirees, she mentioned she was pleased that now some of her fellow teachers won't be losing their jobs.
"It's a good thing all around," she said.
Upon graduating from New London High School, she remembers she didn't know what to do.
However, with the wide array of interests she had, she found the area of home economics, (now called Family and Consumer Science), where she got her degree, intriguing.
"There's been a lot of opportunity for creativity with different projects," she said, discussing the highlights of the job. "It's been fun in starting a new project, ending it and starting a new one all over again."
Currently, Christopherson deals with six subjects: food (the preparation and nutrition), child development, family relations, housing, clothing and consumer education.
She said consumer education is an important subject for middle school students to know about to prepare them for future endeavors.
"The average household has $8,000 of credit card debt," she said. "That has to be a concern for the average American--living within their income."
The importance of consumer education has been one of the biggest changes she's seen in her three decades of teaching.
Another has been the ratio of males to females. Once thought of as predominantly female, Christopherson said that, at the high school level, more males are taking family and consumer science classes than females.
"More people are telling me that the fathers are the cooks," she said. "It's more of a societal change in that one person isn't responsible for the work at home."
An additional transformation has been the advent of cable television, specifically channels like HGTV and the Food Network.
"Thirty years ago, people wouldn't be watching those channels," she said.
Christopherson later explained she choose Ellsworth for her first interview because that's where her boyfriend at the time, Ross, was from. The couple eventually married and had two daughters, Kelly and Leah. (Ross is now the highway commissioner for the county.)
As for what's next, she said she'd like to work more with her part-time business in floral design and spoiling her granddaughter, Hannah, who is 14-months-old.
Finally, her advice for parents is "don't let your children watch too much TV or play video games. Involve them in crafts and hobbies and playing outside. Let them use their imagination and interact with others."