When asked once if she could live her life over, Sandi Swartz said she would still teach, which is one indication why Swartz is going to be inducted into the Redwood Valley Hall of Fame May 7 during the annual Evening of the Stars.
Education has made its mark on Sandi Swartz, and Sandi Swartz has made her mark in education. The long-time English educator in the Red-wood Area School District helped to mold the lives of hundreds of students over the years, and even though she has officially retired from the classroom, Swartz is still making her mark. Swartz, who grew up in Iowa, knew from an early age she was going to be a teacher. Early photos exhibit students sitting under the tutelage of Swartz. “My three sisters were my students,” said Swartz. During her formative years in school, Swartz was one who observed other teachers. “I made a list of things I would and would not do as a teacher,” she said, adding she wrote down the things she did and did not like about her own teachers. For Swartz, who has set personal goals her entire life, education was at the top of her list of priorities. So, when she graduated from high school she headed north into Minnesota to earn her degree in English education at Mankato State University. Schol-arships, grants and loans helped her achieve that goal.
Swartz said the doctor in Spirit Lake, Iowa, where she graduated from high school, actually cosigned her loan. Swartz, who also earned a degree in speech, did serve as a junior high speech coach, and is called on to speak about education at different events. Today Swartz speaks to aspiring educators as part of the student teacher program at Southwest Minnesota State Univ-ersity in Marshall. In 1989, Swartz took a leave of absence from her job teaching in the local school district to teach at SMSU where she taught courses in the elements of instruction and served as a mentor for student teachers. Swartz actually began her teaching career in Glencoe, just three days after earning her degree, and after her husband, Roger, got out of the service the couple moved to the Redwood area where he got a job in Wabasso and she continued her career teaching in Morgan for about a year. It was in 1975 when she was hired by the Redwood Falls School District, and she spent 34 years teaching English to students of varying ages. “I taught students from Grade 7 all the way through college,” said Swartz. During a visit to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. Swartz made a connection with a woman who was a Holocaust survivor. That woman paid three visits to Redwood Falls to speak with students and the community – providing a face to the stories of the Holocaust students were learning about in Swartz’s class. It was those types of activities Swartz en-joyed including in her teaching, as she has emphasized the importance of an activity-based classroom. Swartz, who is going to be inducted into the Redwood Valley Hall of Fame May 7 during the annual Evening of the Stars event, admitted she was shocked when the call came letting her know she had been selected for induction. Swartz said she is humbled and honored to be recognized in this way, adding she considers Redwood Falls to be a good place to raise a family. Her two daughters received their education in the local school district. “This is a good community,” said Swartz, adding she continues to enjoy being part of it in retirement. Swartz retired from her role in education in 2006, and remains busy in her new career. That Swartz still is involved in education is an indication of the reality for her – education is not just a career it is her passion. When asked once if she could live her life over, Swartz said she would still teach. “I have no regrets,” she said, adding she doesn’t think she deserves this honor more than anyone else. “There are a lot of good teachers out there.”