When Steve Brandt graduated from Redwood Falls High School in 1973, he went off to study English at the Morris campus of the University of Minnesota.

Yet, at the time, he was not sure the path toward education was going to be the right fit for him.

So, after finishing his degree in 1977, Brandt entered the working world in Iowa and later moved back to his hometown working at the Morgan’s Red Owl store.

“I found the need for a new challenge,” said Brandt when asked why he decided to change his career path going back to school to earn his education degree.

Twenty-four years later he is stepping down from his role as a teacher.

“I went to Southwest State for two years to get my teaching degree,” said Brandt, adding he has since felt that was a good choice for him.

With his degree in elementary education, Brandt started off his career as a substitute teacher.

“At that time when there was a job opening there were hundreds of applications for that job,” said Brandt.

Then Brandt got a job working as a paraprofessional, which he did for six years before getting his first role as a full-time teacher in 1999.

“I was a half-time classroom teacher and a half-time Reading Recovery teacher,” said Brandt. “That was a great experience for me. Even today I still use skills I learned then in my classroom.”

Brandt then moved on to have his own classroom, and over the years he has worked with first and second graders at Reede Gray Elementary School. Brandt said he enjoys working with the younger students, because they helped to make his role as an educator a lot more enjoyable. 

With years of work experience now in the rear-view mirror, Brandt has decided to step down from his role in education at the end of this school year, adding he believes now is just the right time.

After all, in retirement he can spend more time with his family, especially his grandchildren. There are also plenty of other things Brandt said he would like to do. Yes, he added, he knows one thing is for sure. He has no plans to just sit around doing nothing.

“I will need to do something,” he said.

That plan likely will include doing some substitute teaching. After all, he has had some experience in that role already.

He also would like to do some traveling. As he looks beyond the end of his time in education, Brandt said he knows he will miss the people at Reede Gray.

“I will miss the staff and the kids,” said Brandt. “There are a lot of good people and great kids in this school. I was very fortunate to have the experiences I had here.”

Brandt said looking back the rapid pace of technology integration into education has been a significant change he has seen over the years, adding he has also seen a significant increase in political involvement in what is being handed down to schools.

Brandt said being in education was the right choice as a second career, adding he is grateful for the opportunity he had to work with students and fellow teachers over the past 24 years.