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Sallander can't imagine life without teaching

Jessica Sallander has her “Teacher of the Year” plaque displayed in her fifth grade classroom at Ellsworth Middle School. The plaque, presented to Sallander by the Ellsworth Community School District Foundation at the local high school graduation this past spring, recognizes her for “outstanding educational leadership.” (Herald photo by Bill Kirk)

Long before Jessica Sallander knew she’d be honored as a “Teacher of the Year,” she knew she wanted to teach.

After all, her mother, Kris Eaton, was a teacher and had a “big influence” on her, Sallander said Thursday. At an early elementary school age, daughter remembered helping around the classroom of mom, who teaches second grade at Ellsworth’s Hillcrest Elementary School.

Although her own choice of teaching as a career was no surprise, Sallander’s being named 2013 Teacher of the Year by the Ellsworth Community School District Foundation certainly was, she said. She learned of the honor when then-Ellsworth Middle School Principal Paul Uhren, Superintendent Barry Cain and Foundation President Sue Hinck came to her classroom door at EMS one day this past May.

“I thought I was getting fired,” she jokingly recalled about her initial reaction.

Instead, the trio announced the award and asked whether she’d be available to accept it at last spring’s high school graduation, she said. Not only did she attend and accept, but her parents were present to view the special moment—father, Greg, of Eaton’s Heating and Sheet Metal in Ellsworth, and her proud mother (the family also includes her brother, Luke, who’s a pilot at the Twin Cities airport).

The 1995 EHS grad said she began her education toward teaching at UW-La Crosse. A year-and-a-half later, she transferred to UW-River Falls, where she graduated in 2000 with a degree in elementary education (grades one-to-six) and a health education minor.

“It took me five years to finish, but it was worth it,” she said.

Part of the degree’s requirements was to do practice teaching She said she fulfilled this at Prescott’s Malone Elementary School. She assisted Denise Severson in a fourth grade class of approximately 25 students.

Next for Sallander was a year of substitute teaching, her first regular job as an educator. It was at Ellsworth and Hudson, and involved all elementary grades, she said.

For more please read the Sept. 18 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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