In 1980, Ann Goche began her education career as a teacher for the Redwood Falls School District.

“I didn’t even know where Redwood Falls was located. I used a map to navigate here,” explained Goche. “The superintendent hired this young girl, and he had blind confidence in me.”

Goche has been teaching in the local district since.

Having grown up on a dairy and small grains farm in the Red River Valley of North Dakota and graduating from Hillsboro High School, Goche went on to earn a degree from Moorhead State University.

As a fifth grader, Goche said she had a wonderful teacher who read to students after lunch every day.

“I wanted to be just like her,” Goche added.

A home economics teacher also helped guide Goche in her path toward education, as she was encouraged to become an elementary school teacher.

While still in school, Goche was given her first taste of education, as she was able to help with a third-grade class.

Throughout her education career, Goche has only taught students in the fifth and sixth grades, and she began working with all school subjects.

Goche said she continued in education for a number of reasons. At the top of that list is the students.

“I love them,” Goche added. “I love teaching the curriculum. I like the challenge of trying to figure out the best way to reach the children's minds. I have been lucky to teach with my best friends. My colleagues have always been important to me. They have supported me through many happy and sad times of my life.”

When Goche thinks back on her career, it is the science classes she enjoyed the most.

“I challenged myself and my kids every day to immerse ourselves in the natural world,” she explained. “I took the kids snowshoeing, made animal tracks out of plaster and engaged in hands-on experiments almost every day. I had a bird camera in my room that focused on feeders in the nature center. It was fun to watch the birds come to the feeders.”

For Goche it is fun to see former students who have kids in her class.

“I like to watch the little fifth graders grow up. Now they are my mechanic, the police officer that keeps me safe, my nurses that keep me healthy, the farmer next door, the funeral director, the kids that joined the military who knock on my classroom door and call me ‘ma’am,’ the teacher that teaches down the hall from me and the kid in the grocery store that bags my groceries or checks me out. That’s fun to see what they’ve become,” she added.

Goche has lots of memories. She remembers watching the space shuttle explode with her class. She can still remember where she was standing and what she was teaching when she heard about the 9-11 bombings.

“Now this year, I will leave my room for the last time with no children surrounding me. It is the saddest time for teaching. I miss ‘my kids’ every day. I miss their bright smiles, their jokes, their stories, their laughter, their innocence. I started my career with a classroom full of kids, and I will leave my career with an empty classroom. To think that I have already taught my last class in my classroom is beyond sad,” she explained.

What are her future plans?

“We'll see what happens. I think it would be fun to sub in other grades and classrooms. I want to still be involved with kids and teachers. Hopefully, I can go on early morning walks, late evening Ranger rides, spend time with my family and maybe travel a little bit. Who knows?” Goche added.

- Submitted photo