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From German to English, now Clausen bids farewell

Rick Clausen is wrapping up a teaching career in the Ellsworth School District that began in 1982. For 28 years, he taught German, then became an English teacher the last four years here. (Herald photo by Bill Kirk)

The late former Ellsworth Junior High School Principal Dick Fuller handing him a key to a classroom and essentially saying “here you go” is a vivid memory for Rick Clausen.

It was 1982 and Clausen was a brand new teacher in the school district where he’d spend his entire career. Once the newcomer got settled, he said he helped establish a German program at both the local senior and former junior high schools.

“We built it one class at a time,” he said Thursday, remembering starting a basic course at the high school, then adding another and eventually offering a couple at the old junior high.

Thirty-two years later, Clausen’s retirement approaches at the end of this school term, though it hardly seems possible to him all of that time has passed. A youthful appearance contributes to making his milestone difficult for others to believe, too. He recalled telling students several of their other teachers were in his classes at one time or another, and the reaction of some was disbelief.

“How old are you?” he said they’d ask him.

German wasn’t the River Falls native’s first choice for a career as an educator, nor is he finishing up still teaching it. He said he originally wanted to be in math and engineering.

“I found out I wasn’t very good (at those subjects),” he said, adding, “so I thought I’d better look around.”

He didn’t have to look far for German, which he’d always taken out of a personal interest, he said. In fact, he’d made it his minor in college.

For more please read the April 30 print version of the Herald. 

Bill Kirk
Bill Kirk was editor of the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth, from 1988 to February, 2015 and is now on staff as a reporter. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He previously worked in the media distribution department at the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus and is past editor of The Tri-County News in Osseo, Wisconsin.
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