By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN Deborah Dieterich of Delano is what one might call “multifaceted.”
From carpentry to finance, medical work to teaching, Dieterich excels in a wide variety of professions, including her current work as a Minnesota Reading Corps (MRC) member at Delano Elementary School.
Dieterich has lived in Delano for less than a year, but she’s already making a lasting impression on the lives of her students.
“I enjoy working with children,” said Dieterich, who meets with 18 students per day.
“Without the Minnesota Reading Corps, these kids would not get that one-on-one attention as much,” she said.
MRC recruits and trains AmeriCorps members to provide extra support for children who are at risk for not reading at their grade level. Members receive extensive training and are equipped with effective literacy instruction methods.
“One of the best parts is seeing the children go from reading 30 words per minute to, say, 70,” Dieterich said.
Each grade level has an “acceptable target” for reading proficiency, Dieterich said. She frequently measures students’ progress and has already seen significant improvement in reading abilities.
“I’ve actually graduated at least nine students,” she said.
In addition to her work during school hours, Dieterich also does volunteer tutoring after school Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“I enjoy teaching,” she said.
Before coming to Delano, Dieterich taught preschool at Montessori School of Pullman in Washington.
At first, the school needed help in the library, so Dieterich came forward. Then, there was an opening for managing lunch staff, so she moved into that position. When the school needed a substitute teacher, Dieterich naturally stepped in.
“There was a need,” she said simply.
Dieterich earned her teaching certificate from a school in Canada, and eventually became a head teacher.
She hasn’t always been in the education field, however,
After high school in Winona, Dieterich graduated from Winona State University with a degree in individualized studies with a technical option.
“That means most of my classes were for business or nursing,” she said.
In between college, Dieterich served in the military for four years, stationed in Germany, Alabama, Missouri, and Washington.
Her official title was a carpenter, but Dieterich helped out in several areas, including human resources. She also became a state-certified emergency medical technician.
“I’m very diverse,” she said. “I’m willing to go where I’m needed.”
After the military, Dieterich went yet another direction with her career, becoming a portfolio finance auditor for the Frank Russell Company in Tacoma, WA.
“In the morning, I’d call clients in England, and at the end of the day, I’d call people in Japan,” she said. “I always had to be aware of the time zones.”
The Frank Russell Company is where Dieterich met her husband, Thomas, who was working there as a computer programmer.
Thomas now works as a computer programmer in Plymouth.
Dieterich and her husband have two daughters. Marleena, 8, is a third grader at Delano Elementary School, and Lydia, 28, works in Winona.
The Dieterich family purchased a house in Delano in April. Dieterich said she is excited for winter.
“I do like my snow,” she said. Dieterich has done a little cross-country skiing, but “otherwise, we basically just play in it,” she laughed.
Dieterich and her family also enjoy hiking.
“All the trails out here are great,” she said.
In the future, her daughter Marleena hopes to take piano and dance lessons.
“We’re looking into getting more involved,” Dieterich said. “I’m glad to be here and part of the community.”