Herald JournalHerald Journal, Oct. 24, 2005

Carol Sideen retiring after 34 years of teaching

By Ryan Gueningsman
Staff Writer

After leaving a lasting impression on hundreds of students that have graced the classrooms within the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted school system, first grade teacher Carol Sideen has found a way to leave that same impression on future generations of students.

Sideen will be retiring Nov. 23 after 34 years of teaching within the school system. She is in the process of having book plates made for new books in the library she is hoping to have donated in student’s names.

“So often when you retire, people will give you little gifts, and it’s like I would rather have people put the funds they would put toward that toward something I can make a difference in the future generations,” Sideen said. “I have really enjoyed teaching, and I’ve seen that over the years I’ve made a difference in the kids by teaching them to read.”

Over the years, Sideen has noticed the condition of many of the books in the school’s libraries deteriorate. She has developed a program that would put 228 new books in the library at Humphrey Elementary in Waverly – one for each student currently enrolled there.

“We need new books in the library,” she said. “How do you have an enthusiasm for reading when the book looks well-used?”

Sideen spoke with principal Jennifer Olson, librarian Marlene George, as well as her husband Neil, and came up with the program. She said a book costs an average of $12.

“The book plates will go in the books, and it will have who donated the money, and will say ‘Make it a great day, from Mrs. Sideen,’” she said.

She hopes to have the books purchased by Jan. 1, and plans to take a set of books to each classroom and have children pick out a book and write their name on the bookplate, as well.

“When they go to the library they can check out books and see their friends name or brother or sister’s name in there, I thought i would be an interesting way to create excitement for reading,” she said. “I knew every child, when they left my classroom, could read to the best of their ability. I want to see them continue to read and be encouraged by that.”

She said some of the classic series’ like the Berenstain Bears also need to be replaced.

“They’re always read and are in such bad shape, so we’ll take a look at replacing some of those too,” Sideen said.

Right now, her plan is to focus on Humphrey Elementary, where she started her teaching career, and is now ending it.

“There definitely needs to be books in the high school, middle school, and in Winsted, but I’m just finding a place to start,” she said. “Maybe other people will continue through the years expanding on getting more books in other libraries.”

This year, Sideen is finishing out her year as a Title One teacher, due to the fact she is retiring mid-school-year.

“It’s a very full day, and it’s interesting working with just a small group rather than a whole classroom,” she said. “I’m really learning a lot.”

Upon her retirement, she plans on “traveling the world,” she said. Her and her husband will be visiting many of the eight exchange students they have hosted at various points in their lives, most of who live in Europe.

She hopes to stay with some of them, and learn more about the areas they live in. The Sideens also plan on spending some time in Texas with her parents.

“I want to finish teaching while I feel really good about it,” she said. “I can come back and sub. I have a lot of things on my list. I’m looking forward to spending time with Neil and my family and pets.”

The Sideens also have an e-commerce business they will be spending more time working on. Neil works full time for the City of Howard Lake as public access coordinator. No matter what the Sideens have been involved with, they feel the key is being able to help people.

Both Sideens have been involved in many volunteer organizations throughout the years. Most recently, Carol and Addie Mucha have done the Good Neighbor Days One Block Run, along with church activities at St. John’s in Howard Lake.

The Sideens were also involved in Thrivent (formerly Lutheran Brotherhood), and served on a board for many years. She is also involved with the Red Hat Society. While teaching, she has also been involved with chemical dependency programs, as well as other committees.

Sideen is a Red Wing native, who attended college at St. Cloud State, and upon graduation applied at Howard Lake schools.

“There were a lot of openings at the time,” she said. “This was my first, and only, teaching position.”

She said the year she came to the area was the same year St. Mary’s school in Waverly closed, and more teachers were needed in the public school system. She met Neil, who had been teaching in the district for four years, and “went from there,” she said. The couple has now been married 32 years and

“Life is never dull. Every day is a new adventure – it’s always an adventure,” she said. “I think that’s what makes it so good and exciting. You gotta enjoy the journey.”

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