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Fosheim to retire following 43-year teaching career

May 9, 2018 GMT

LEAD — She’s been a staple in the halls of Lead-Deadwood High School for 35 years and a certified teacher for a total of 43. Come May 24, Barb Fosheim’s four-decade-plus career spent in the classroom will come to a close.

And it’s a bittersweet farewell for students, staff, and a long list of others who were touched by her teaching.

“Former teachers have said, ‘You’ll know when it is time to retire,’” Fosheim said of her impetus to enter into the next chapter of her life. “Well, it’s time, after 43 years in the classroom. Besides, my teaching certificate expires in July, and I don’t plan to renew it.”

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Fosheim’s career includes one year in Florence; seven in Adrian, Minn.; and 35 in Lead. She graduated from Augustana college (now university) in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in history before earning her master’s degree from the University of South Dakota in 1976 with a major in English literature.

Fosheim said her teaching philosophy is based on a plaque she has hanging on her bedroom wall. “It’s called the Teacher’s Prayer, and it goes like this: ‘Enable me to teach with wisdom for I help to shape the mind. Equip me to teach with truth for I help to shape the conscience. Encourage me to teach with vision for I help to shape the future. Empower me to teach with love for I help to shape the world,’” she said. “So I guess you could say my philosophy deals with focusing my teaching on discipline and learning based on wisdom, truth, vision, and love, as I hope to inspire my students to take responsibility for their own learning so they can grow in the knowledge of themselves and their own potential. My subject matter might be English, but I teach students.”

When asked what her most memorable or impactful experience with students was over the years, Fosheim struggled to name just one.

“Oh, where to start? I could give you volumes!” she said. “I love how literature is relevant to things happening in current history, such as my drama students performing ‘Yours Anne’ during the holocaust of Bosnia-Herzegovina or my teaching government during the Nixon Watergate era, or my teaching ‘Othello’ during the trial of O.J. Simpson. I have always told my students that literature is merely a reflection of who we are, where we’ve been, and perhaps where we are going — only the names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.”

Her reply to the most challenging things she’s experienced over the course of her career was more decided.

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“The toughest things I have faced as a teacher deal with the tragic deaths of my students—whether those were due to childhood rheumatoid arthritis, fatal accidents, or suicides,” Fosheim said. “Too many losses too early.”

Fosheim said Lead-Deadwood is a school system that is rich in history, and it has been her honor to have been a part of that history.

“I have been blessed in so many ways. In the past four decades, I have instructed so many young people who have gone on to contribute to our society in big ways. As I leave the education field, I take pride in the fact that many of my former students are now successful teachers not only in the Lead-Deadwood school system but also throughout the nation,” Fosheim said. “I would like to thank the community for all the support I have received over my 35 years at LDHS. I will be a bit sad to say goodbye to my students, but I wish them the best as they continue with their lifelong learning adventure. It is now time for me to find new challenges and new adventures.”

That said, Fosheim’s clear calendar may take a bit of getting used to.

“Free time will be a new concept for me,” she said. “I’m sure I won’t be bored a day, although I have no real plans for what I’ll do after I retire. I do know that I have a bookshelf full of books I have not had time to read, and I like to travel and wander around the Hills. I’m very certain that my time will be filled with all kinds of new adventures, and I look forward to them.”

A retirement celebration honoring Fosheim’s long and illustrious teaching career will be held 3:30-7:30 p.m. Friday at the Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center. The public is invited.

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